Posted on 03 September 2013.
‘Pioneer’ would be a great word to describe Pamela as she has almost single-handedly generated community growing and, as a result, stunning community engagement on her estate, the Cressingham, on Tulse Hill next to Brixton. Becoming a South London Master Gardener in June 2011 was the catalyst. Just over 3 years later we can say that life on the estate shows a good degree of transformation, and Pam’s personal confidence and well-being too.
Having stopped work under trying circumstances, Pam had been keen to develop her food growing passion and interest in sustainability and get growing going locally. She’d spent a long period leafletting, doing consultations, and setting up meetings on the estate, with not much result,
‘I couldn’t work out how to get started and I wanted to grow things.’
She gained the confidence, inspiration and materials at the two day Master Gardener induction course and set up a One Pot Pledge event the following Saturday on the estate. From there more beds were colonised. Importantly, neighbours came out to chat. The area became a Capital Growth Space and the group received some money, and another grant from the council, that went to the Tenants and Residents Association. In order to access the money, Pam stood as treasurer, and the TRA gained new life.
‘The gardening involved people being outdoors and actually talking to each other, sharing issues about our tennants’ hall and the TRA as it was’.
Pam has since set up community composting, and arranged for the estate to become a food waste processing pilot project with the council. The compost collection point is outside her front door! Not only that, but this summer she organised a tour for residents of the local food growing sites in wider Tulse Hill and is generating more food growing discussion and activity. She is advising the Josephine Avenue growing group with Quadrant Housing Association, for instance.
Pam has also contributed substantial hours to Lambeth Poly, an innovative polytunnel community cropping project on Tulse Hill, and she’s a member of local food activist group Incredible Edible Lambeth. She’s been involved with Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses nearby and compost giveaways and growing events at the Bandstand Beds further afield in the borough on Clapham Common.
In addition to the fabulous work on Cressingham Estate, Pam has supported two primary schools, two community groups and 15 households wearing the MG t-shirt. She’s recorded 174 hours of activity and spoken to 547 people in the wider community (though I suspect both counts to be much higher in reality). She’s consistently contributed time to many stalls and events in addition to the ones on her growing patch such as the Lambeth Country Show, the Crystal Palace Overground Festival, the Clapham Common Compost Giveaways and the Tulse Hill Rushy Common Fairs.
Pam’s a popular co-volunteer with other Master Gardeners and valued for her company and engagement ability. Pam has been a participant in many of the extra training days, socials and was keen to contribute to the programme evaluation focus groups we have held. Lastly, she’s also spoken to cohorts of new Master Gardeners at their induction weekends.
With her cheery, chatty and knowledgable approach Pamela shows the qualities of a fabulous Master Gardener. As well as composting know-how, Pam also brings an extensive knowledge of wildlife, particularly insect life and her special interest of fungi.
I co-trained with Pamela in June 2010 and have always enjoyed her quirkiness and authenticity. She contributes time, effort and creativity and always in a spirit of wanting the best for all, without expecting thanks. She’s had some health issues but continues the gardening ambassador role without complaint. I believe it supports her in keeping active. I am delighted to have been able to work with her in my role as co-ordinator and through the programme support her in some small way to actualise some of her inpired aims and ideals.
Pam is one of our many fantastic Master Gardeners. Why not nominate your Master Gardener for an award?
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