Peckham residents have been escaping from the humdrum of everyday life in an oasis of plants, flowers and vegetables they’ve built on their estate.
The allotments, behind Marchwood Close, Southampton Way, and used by 30 people, have been built with £20,000 from Southwark Council’s ‘Cleaner, Greener, Safer Scheme’.
Since 2003, the scheme has given local residents across Southwark monetary grants that go towards making permanent improvements to the local area.
Mum-of-three Fadime Pala, 34, said: “It’s such a gift for us. It’s good for my mental health and I can see the benefit in my kids as well. It’s a place to escape from the business of your routine. It feels like you’re somewhere completely different”.
Nick Flower, Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) chair, says the land used to be an anonymous patch of grass only used by dog walkers. “You couldn’t even have a picnic on it because you’d be worried about putting your hand in something horrible”, he said.
Southampton Way residents started construction of the allotments five years ago and the allotments have been expanding ever since.
Danielle Valens, who has lived on the estate for five years, said “It’s brilliant. Normally to get a space in an allotment you have to wait for years and it’s really expensive. This is such a nice thing to have on your doorstep.”
To get a plot, residents have to show commitment to the cause by attending meetings and helping with the allotments’ upkeep.
Gardeners each build their own plot with freely provided materials which is why, as Nick explains, “they are all different shapes and sizes”.
Local scaffolding firm BCM Scaffolding Services have been providing heaps of free wood for residents who grow cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn, carrots, chards and more.
TRA chair Nick had to install a gate with a code after a spate of aubergine robberies but says he tries to keep the garden “as open as possible”.