'Garden of Earthly Delights': Extinction Rebellion volunteers turn derelict scrap of land behind Hackney Central into eco-educational hub
PUBLISHED: 18:11 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 19:05 22 October 2019
A patch of concrete that's been derelict for a decade has been overhauled by Extinction Rebellion volunteers to show how sites sitting idle can be used for the community good.
The spot of land off Graham Road will eventually be turned into a second entrance for Hackney Central Overground station by the council but for now is unused.
The XR Hackney group was founded in February, and by the end of May hundreds of volunteers had spent a month creating the "garden of earthly delights".
A key focus of the site is to use what's going to waste where possible.
All the beds and structures - including a stage where biodiversity talks have been held - are made from recycled materials either donated or found in skips.
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The greenhouse was built in just three days using old windows discarded from building sites.
Tiranth Amarasinghe told the Gazette: "Dealing with the implications of climate breakdown can feel overwhelming but this project now serves as a gateway for new people to get involved in positive solutions, and to take part in climate activism without the need to fear arrest.
"It's still evolving, and it's built around a permaculture ethos; a no-waste, wildlife friendly oasis for everyone. It is a place for people to find out about the environment, what XR is about, and how they can get involved. It's a place for creative collaboration, envisioning a better future, building hope, skills and connection, and empowering the local community."
Free events over the summer included educational workshops, weekly volunteering, sowing seeds and sharing food. Visitors were invited to take propagated plants and fresh veg away.
Mother Olga Rozmis became one of the main gardeners on site, sharing skills she'd learned from growing food at home. She now brings her three-year-old daughter along regularly.
She said: "As a person who grew up close to nature, I felt really disconnected from it while living in a flat in London. The opportunity to get involved in looking after the garden really improved my mental state, and let me connect with like-minded people. It is an amazing space for my daughter to free play and learn about growing plants. In half a year the garden has become the natural urban escape I was wishing for."