A Skip Garden in the heart of London.
A garden in a skip? These days there seems to be no end of imaginative new forms of gardening as a quick glimpse of the forthcoming ChelseaFringe events testify. The Skip Garden is an extraordinarily imaginative community garden run by Global Generation just north of Kings Cross. Once a forgotten area of London it has been totally re-invented in the past few years into a lively district thronging with people, restaurants and uber cool flats. Now on its fourth site the Skip Garden picks itself up and moves as different parts of the 67 acre construction site at Kings Cross are developed.
‘It is creating an urban ecology by using the story of growing bringing people together and reconnecting with nature in the middle of a hard core commercial environment’ says Jane Riddiford, Global Generation’s founding Director.
Wandering round the garden one immediately sees the appeal from the slightly surreal outside wash basin to the chickens (yes, live chickens literally yards from Kings Cross) to the growing of vegetables in skips or planters made from old scaffold boards and the skip café.
‘We work with fifteen schools, community groups and job agencies in the area on a wide variety of programmes in a combination of during school hours, after school and at weekends and during holiday periods. The activities include a ‘Junior Chef Club’ and ‘Friday Night Out’ aimed at 11-14 year children who play football for free with Arsenal and afterwards are taught to cook food which they then eat in the skip garden.
‘The whole thing is a bit of an adventure’. At any one time we might have corporate lunches and meetings, alongside a youth workshop and a child’s birthday party. We just sling them all in together creating a living sense of what a community is’. The garden team also look after the planting outside many of the local restaurants.
A Kiwi, Jane grew up on a farm in New Zealand. When she arrived in England she ran a community arts organisation. ‘We used to take the children to Wiltshire, many had never left London before’. I was fascinated by their reaction on many levels – they began connecting with each other and stopped saying ‘I am bored Miss’. It made me think we could recreate these experiences in the city. I used to bike home from work past Kings Cross and became curious about what was happening. I made contact with Roger Madelin of the site’s developer Argent. ‘He asked me to send him some ideas but in fact it was his idea to have moveable gardens. Do go and discover the Skip Garden and Skip Cafe for yourself. Both are open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am – 4pm. The café offers scones, salads and a daily special from 12-2pm. No hard hat is needed. Have fun.