We’ve got a resources and campaigns directory listing a lot of grassroots projects in Essex where Alternative Estuary operate and in Avon where Grassroots Alternatives operate: The Directory. Pretty much all of the projects listed have some kind of formal structure.

However, to think that what happens in a neighbourhood starts and ends with a structured project would be wrong. There are also a number of informal initiatives organised by neighbours that get a lot done but have no structure as such, let alone an online presence. So while our directories offer a picture of what’s happening at the grassroots, it’s not a complete one.

We don’t want to get into a debate about structured projects versus informal initiatives, The only point we would want to make is that in our view, there’s a place for both plus the grey areas in between. It’s down to what approach works best in a particular neighbourhood.

Over the life of this blog, we’ve been featuring the community garden run by residents in Nursery Gardens in Laindon up by the A127. The images at the top of this post are from the latest work party. This is the last post we published about the garden: You don’t need permission to grow food:) 22.3.23. This was one we published just over a year ago: Taking over one (or more) beds at a time:) 22.3.22. The garden has been going in one form or another for over a decade.

The importance of the garden is not just about the food it produces. It’s also about building a sense of solidarity on a fairly isolated estate. Solidarity that in increasingly troubled times is needed more than ever. For a project to exist for over a decade is testament to the recognition by people in a neighbourhood of the need for stability and cohesion. Working on a joint project is one way of building that.

What’s the secret of its success? Simply that it’s run by residents for residents. No one has parachuted in to act as a saviour for the neighbourhood. How does it work? Here’s an example – the Sensible Garden which is a resident maintained pocket garden in South Norwood. One that’s now over six years old. Basically, it’s about trusting people to do the right thing by each other rather than relying on a leader and a hierarchy…

Questions and answers

Is there a committee? NO

Do you have meetings? NO

Is it run by the council? NO

Is it run by a church? NO

Do I have to join a group to come and help? NO

Do I have to know lots about gardening to help out? NO

Do I have to turn up on a regular basis? NO

Can I just go on my own and do weeding or litter picking? YES

Can I go and use the picnic benches at any time? YES

Do I have to pay any money to come and help? NO

Am I allowed to donate plants? YES


Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/The-Sensible-Garden-786327811482410/