The next in our Isolated Moments series, aiming to keep spirits buoyed and creativity alive during COVID-19 social distancing and quarantining measures, comes from Carole Wright. Carole is a walker, community gardener and beekeeper from South London, with a background in Graphic Design. Known for her political walks around London and writing about the experience of being black whilst walking in the urban landscape, Carole is committed to the power of community involvement in shaping green spaces.
During lockdown I have been restricted to walks in South East London, exploring and investigating, and documenting this on @Blak_Outside. The empty streets got me thinking about community and particularly how in these times, there is a stronger and more urgent need for community togetherness. Community spirit is being eroded, especially where I come from in Brixton, where gentrification projects are ripping the heart out of communities who have been there for generations. Whereas ‘before’ we were, in essence, already self isolating through being wrapped up in our own individual concerns, this national collective experience has provided the impetus we needed to reach out to our neighbours, either through needing help, or the offering of help.
I have also been reconnecting with my neighbours, getting mutual food aid donation for them or organising seed or plant swops using the increased time at home to create my own Market Garden.
“A ‘market garden’ was historically a term for farming aimed at producing vegetables and berries, rather than grain, dairy or orchards; in other words farming by the hoe, not the plough. Although the word ‘garden’ may suggest a small set up, this was not always the case. Most gardens, especially towards the beginning of their rise to prominence, were necessarily located close to their markets. Those of the mid 1800s were growing all kinds of produce for local consumption and, by the time of the expansion of the railways, urban areas much further away.”Elizabeth Walne
To make your own Market Garden, ask around among your family, friends, neighbours, community gardens and local mutual aid group for seeds and plant cuttings, or order online. At this time of year look for oriental seeds, other leaf salads or sprouting seeds. To make your Market Garden look authentic, go on a walk to a local outdoor street market in your area. Take note of the different types of typographic styles used on the stalls or shops nearby.
Being from an African Caribbean background, street markets, especially Brixton and East Street in South London, have featured heavily in my childhood and adult life. My Graphic Design practice, Performative Walking and Community Gardening have been influenced by my Ghanaian and Jamaica heritage, the sights and sounds in Brixton and East Street markets and the migrant communities that inhabit those spaces. See sweet potatoes, yams, callaloo beside more traditional local produce such as lettuce, King Edward potatoes and carrots. My love of typography stems from the eclectic style of the migrant shop keeper’s fruit and vegetable shop signage.
You will need:
- Empty food containers / Tetra Pak cartons
- Craft knife or scissors
- Colouring pencils, felt pens,
- PVA glue or sellotape
- Compost or garden soil
- Seeds or plant cuttings
- Go for a walk to your local street market to see what typefaces and styles they use.
- Choose which edible flowers, seeds, cuttings you want to add to your container garden My tip for July – cress, nasturtiums, winter salad leaves, strawberry runners.
- Prepare an empty food carton by cutting the top away leaving three sides.
- Decorate the outside of your carton with the name of your local street market or make up a totally new name. You could decorate your container with maker pens, paint, newspaper or magazine cuttings. Get creative!
- Fill with compost or garden soil.
- Sow the seeds or runners, label with the seed name, date of planting, and your name. Use a lollipop stick or other recycled label.
- Don’t forget to water your seeds with a watering can.
To Make a DIY Watering Can:
- Clean an empty 1 or 2 pint milk bottle.
- Put the lid on a wooden or other stable surface.
- Use hammer and different sized nails to make holes (the smaller the nail the finer the water spray).
- Put a hole in the handle of the bottle to let trapped air escape and help with water flow.
- Decorate the dried surface of the bottle with permanent markers.
- Fill with water, replace the lid and enjoy watering your seeds or plants!
Enjoy this workshop. Get to know your neighbours and the cultures outside of your own that populate a space. Move with care for yourself, other people and the planet. Explore your neighbourhood safely!