Volunteer Journal #73 (UK) – Conservation Volunteers

Not all volunteering can be as glamorous as cleaning snake cages. No, sometimes you have to get dirty. That’s what I set out to do during my stay in London, a place renowned for refinement.

Early on I zeroed in on an organization called The Conservation Volunteers.  They restore woodlands, plant community gardens, and clean up the unsightly. My first attempt to volunteer with them ended with me stuck at a bus stop, in freezing rain, for what felt like the length of that last horrible Twilight movie, because the buses were on strike and I’m an idiot and did not read the morning news.

Daring another trip outside the boundaries of zone 4 on the tube, to a far away land where only buses and horse drawn carriages dare to tread, I made it to Hounslow to help TCV with the Sow Good Community Garden.

As I walked up I noticed that it didn’t look like much of a garden.  Currently, it’s a vacant, unkempt, former local rubbish dump behind a chain link fence, but project leader Anna has big plans.

She guided me around saying, “And over here people will picnic, and they’ll be a path here for kids to run on,” and things of that ilk and I soon started to see the potential.  Strawberries and rhubarb has spread from cuttings the year before.  Two people sized apple trees already produce fruit and lemon balm pushes its way between donated flowering plants.

Yes, donated.  Apparently, they don’t have much funding for this project so all the materials they work with have been donated soil, clippings, and tools.  Seems the odd individual (odd meaning rare not weird ‘kay) will call them up when they are tearing up their flowerbed and donate the plants that would otherwise become rubbish.

That’s what I would be working with today, rubbish plants.

I was to help Anna dig a flowerbed roughly the shape of a boomerang and then fill it with some flower cast offs and lemon balm.

The workout of course is in the digging and jumping/running away from the slugs, worms, and various other creepy crawlers that inhabit the plot.

After the plot is dug I looked for grass roots and threw them in the compost pile.

Then I dug holes for the clippings and castoffs, stuck the new plants in the ground and covered them.

No worries about watering because as sure as I’m a curly headed girl who spends way too much time straightening her locks a torrential English downpour will soak you before the process is finished saving you a step.

The garden is actually the ideal way to promote the idea of conservation.  Plants that would be trash given a place to live and blossom.  It’s going to be a lovely place with heaps of fresh fruit.  Someday I want to come back and see it in it’s full grown glory.