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2 women bending down to tend to a garden bed in Walpole Park, using garden forks

Garden ripe for recruits

If you are looking to spend more time outdoors and have an interest in gardening and growing food, then we might have just the thing for you.

Twice a week, a group of volunteers meet in Walpole Park in Ealing and tend to the walled garden that once grew produce for Sir John Soane’s kitchen at Pitzhanger Manor. They are looking for new recruits to join them as they maintain the hidden gem and keep its tradition going.

Between 10am and midday on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the group gets together to mulch, sow, weed, water and harvest the crops.

Ali Thurm became a volunteer about 6 years ago. She left her teaching career but continued to write works of fiction from home and found this meant she was spending more time alone.

‘Great to be outdoors’

She said: “Volunteering is a great way to meet people and I love gardening, but I have a tiny garden at home. It’s great to be outdoors with others, and good for your mental and physical health.

“Most volunteers tend to choose 1 of the 2 days to come, and there’s no need to sign up and commit to anything. We’re a friendly and welcoming group of people and we occasionally get together too, often we’ll have a picnic in the park in the summer and the weather is nice.”

The team grow lots of fruit and vegetables, such as potatoes, beans, rhubarb, and an assortment of berries, which they can take home to eat.

They are supported by an Ealing Council park ranger, who is on hand to give advice and order any materials required. Last year they put in more than 1,000 hours of work to plan, plant, weed, mulch, prune and dead-head the garden. The garden even received a gold award in last year’s London in Bloom awards and Walpole Park has held Green Flag status, a national recognition of park quality, for many years.

If you would like to find out more, drop in to one of the sessions and have a chat to the lead volunteer in charge on that day.

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