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King's Scholars' Passage Community Garden

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by Jenny Hatton Mahon (subscribe)
Weekends are about freedom, exploring and fun... and that's worth writing about. hattonmahon.weebly.com
Published July 1st 2021
Sowing the seeds of community

"When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden." - Minnie Aumonier, writer and artist.

Before the world came to a COVID standstill, King's Scholars' Passage was a neglected and uninviting laneway, a magnet to rubbish and anti-social activity. Today, this laneway in a tiny corner of Westminster, has been transformed into a welcoming garden, with flourishing greenery and flowering shrubs, inviting passers-by to stop and admire the display and providing a place where the local community can connect and create. The KSP Community Garden has become a green sanctuary and has shown how a little idea can transform lives and cultivate a closer community.

kings scholars passage community garden
Before and After. King's Scholars' Passage Community Garden
The KSP Community Garden initiative is a voluntary project led by residents of the Westminster Cathedral Area and The Passage, an organisation which has been caring for the homeless community in London for 40 years. The local residents of the Cathedral Area, in collaboration with The Passage Gardening Club, have worked together to create the KSP Community Garden from the ground up, sourcing and restoring second-hand terracotta pots, planting a variety of flowering shrubs and trees, and engaging with local businesses to support the transformation of this unique neighbourhood. As well as enhancing the aesthetics of the laneway and providing safe passage for pedestrians, this initiative is transforming lives through the creation of a place where those who are marginalised can connect with local residents, fostering a sense of inclusion and purpose as they work together to design and develop the garden.

When asked about what the KSP Community Garden means to the local community, Mick Clarke, Chief Executive of The Passage says, "One of the most striking aspects that came from the pandemic, is a sense that we are all interdependent on each other. This initiative perfectly captures the fact that, whoever we are and whatever stage we are at in our journey of life, we can all be part of a community and we all have a role to play in that community. The Passage is very proud to be part of this initiative and very grateful to all the residents involved for being so committed to improving the surroundings of our local community."

kings scholars passage community garden
Residents of The Passage and members of the local community come together to create and tend to the garden
Looking at "before and after" photos of King's Scholars' Passage, what has been achieved in a year where the world stood still is remarkable and inspiring. With a focus on community engagement, wellbeing, inclusion and a commitment to sustainability, the project quickly gained traction and support. As well as the environmental benefits derived through the development of an urban green space, the use of recycled goods and adoption of circular economy principles, the importance of sustainability of society through care and compassion for the homeless and marginalised was a key driver. Gardening has long been associated with physical and mental wellbeing, and the bringing together of neighbours who care about the environment, sustainability, inclusion and community ownership of social values provides long-term benefits for society.

Development of The KSP Community Garden has been boosted by generous financial support from corporate neighbours citizenM hotels, the HML Group and Jupiter Asset Management. And in the spirit of sustainability, Grosvenor Estate, Landsec and Q&S Limited have made donations, including several large second-hand street planters which provide the garden with scale.

The KSP Community Garden provides a blueprint for a grassroots initiative, with local businesses and residents from all walks of life coming together for the benefit and betterment of the broader community. The initiative also celebrates and supports the vital service The Passage provides to the homeless and the marginalised and aims to create an inclusive environment where everyone can flourish. The KSP Community Garden project is also a demonstration of how good things can emerge from difficult times and how community gardening can improve lives, generate wellbeing and transform neighbourhoods.

kings scholars passage community garden
The once barren laneway now boasts lush greenery and colourful blooms
If you would like to get involved and support the KSP Community Garden, there are a few ways you can donate:
Compost - donate a bag of peat-free compost.
Plants gifts of small trees, shrubs and plants, including plants from your own garden, window box or balcony.
Terracotta Pots if you have large terracotta pots that you no longer need, these can be used. Broken pots can also be used for drainage crocks.
Make a financial donation to The Passage KSP Community Garden - see contact details below, with donations being used to purchase second-hand terracotta pots, plants and garden supplies.
Become a KSP Community Gardener no gardening skill or experience is required!

Any donations of gardening supplies can be collected by The Passage Gardening Club and local residents who are leading the initiative.

And, if you happen to be passing by King's Scholars' Passage, consider taking a detour down the laneway to see how planting a little seed of an idea has blossomed and transformed this community space.

For more information on The KSP Community Garden and The Passage, visit their website here.

To contact The KSP Community Garden, you can email
kspgardenproject@gmail.com or emma.noble@passage.org.uk.


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Why? From little things big things grow
When: Every day
Where: King's Scholars' Passage, London, SW1
Cost: Free
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