18 Aug 2020
Before lockdown, what did a typical day volunteering in the Wimbledon Guild Community Garden look like for you?
The Community Garden would normally have been open to passing visitors twice a week so as well as a little gardening, most of my time on those days would be showing people around and talking to them about the concept of ‘No Dig’ organic gardening as well as what Wimbledon Guild does to support the people of Merton.
Experienced gardeners are always intrigued that we allow stinging nettles, alkanet and wildflowers in the first third of the garden, and have native hedging at the rear but it’s all because we are organic and wildlife-friendly and need to encourage the beneficial predatory insects to come in and eat the pests so it’s really important to explain that too!
How has volunteering in the Community Garden changed since lockdown began?
Without visitors, we have actually had more time to keep on top of the gardening! We usually have a few spare plants for sale but as we were unable to open, I organised a plant sale on my driveway and raised over £300 for Wimbledon Guild. Usually the vegetables we grow would be delivered weekly to the HomeFood Café but as it has been closed we’re planning a plant and produce sale on my driveway as soon as we have the inevitable glut of tomatoes, courgettes and beans which won’t be too long now!
What has it been like adapting to the change in how you work in the garden?
Initially during lockdown, volunteers could only visit alone so I coordinated everyone’s visits and made sure each volunteer had their own basket of tools to avoid cross-contamination. Since restrictions have lifted a little we can now volunteer in twos and threes, whilst maintaining social distancing, which is much nicer for those who live alone and enjoy the social interaction.
Outside of volunteering in the garden, how have you adapted to life under lockdown, and has that changed as a result of the recent easing in restrictions?
I am very lucky in that my life hasn’t changed very much during lockdown. I love being out in my own flower garden and coordinating our work in the Community Garden. I’m delighted that Wimbledon Guild’s Tap dancing classes and Food for Thought talks have gone online via Zoom so I can continue to access them.
What has been the response from the community to the work you and the rest of Wimbledon Guild are doing during lockdown?
As the Community Garden is only a few minutes’ walk from my house, it had helped me get to know a lot more of my neighbours. I had set up a WhatsApp Group for my road in 2018 which became invaluable during lockdown. I signed up to be my road’s coordinator for Merton Covid-19 Mutual Aid and regularly communicated to everyone how they could donate to Wimbledon Guild and the food bank, and how those in need could access support, as well as arranging collections of goodies for the NHS and care home staff. Having the Wimbledon Guild Community Garden located close by has definitely increased awareness in Dundonald and Merton Park of the services that Wimbledon Guild provide for our community.
Thank you Dawn! We'll be catching up with other team members over the next few days, so do check back for more!
Socially isolated people across Merton are depending on us for immediate and practical support with food deliveries, telephone befriending and much more. In what is a difficult time for everyone, help us support vulnerable people who are likely to feel the impact most.