The beginning of October saw the coming together of everyone who worked on the Spiralfields project, from the designers (us!) to the builders Chauncey Gardens and the myriad of volunteers -in particular the guys at the nearby Osmani Center who worked tirelessly to complete this wonderful project on time and on budget. The celebration took the from of a party in the garden itself, opened by Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
We still await the installation of the totem feature, but despite this the scheme is remarkably true to the original vision which is an achievement to be proud of considering the extremely tight budget. A strong ethos of sustainable creativity ran through this project from start to finish, from the reuse of potential waste materials to create landform, to the constant presence of local volunteers who now feel they really have a stake in the future of this community garden. In tandem with the forest gardening course we ran over a weekend in September for the volunteers, we hope that they are sufficiently enthused and ‘skilled up’ to take on the establishment and maintenance of the garden. Though the forest garden will take many years to mature, the wide gaps between trees and shrubs have been cleverly filled with annual vegetables such as brassicas, runner beans, squash and even some experimental Quinoa. This seasonal abundance provided much of the greenery for the opening day, which was a striking contrast to the former use of the space as an access and storage area for the construction of the East London Line. Gradually this annual ground layer will be replaced by more and more shade loving perennial ground covers as the canopy closes in above.
The main feature of the design, the Western Red Cedar roundwood shelter, provided the ideal focal point for the event as a space for stalls and a barbecue. This area will soon become a space to raise seedlings. We are also told that when it rains it is captivating to watch the flow of water off the roof, down the rain chain and into the channels via the storage tank, before finally making its way into the swale to irrigate the garden.
We will post updates on this unique project in the heart of London as it establishes itself and continues to benefit the community it was intended for.