Castlehaven Community Park: A Gardening and Growing Haven!
Castlehaven Community Park is in the heart of Camden Town and the largest stretch of green space in the area. We’re supporting a growing community.
Read our latest blog posts over on Project Dirt and find out what we get up to.
In the early 1980s, it was an underused crime-ridden derelict site. Over the past 30 years, Castlehaven has reclaimed it and transformed the spaces into a haven for our local community to use and enjoy.
Managing the space has its challenges: the site is quite open, and we’re a community organisation running a public park. Camden Market, one of London’s biggest tourist attractions, which is nearby, brings litter issues, while a large development takes shape opposite. We’ve also had the odd setback trying to do different things with the space, with some activity working better than others.
Here are our plans for 2018:
We want to create a new wildlife area, improve bio-diversity and add to our new and established trees, which includes a mulberry. There are opportunities to develop new planting and bring more year-round colour as well as edible species like vegetables and herbs. We want to have fruit-pressing sessions and growing to baking workshops. Given our diverse population, there are opportunities to grow and cook things from people’s different backgrounds.
We’re keen to connect communities particularly those without outside space and those feeling more isolated, bringing generations together and enabling people to meet their neighbours and create a green oasis where they live. We want to build on our gardening master classes and skills workshops. Also, help children see how things are grown on their doorstep. There are opportunities for people to get exercise through ‘green gyms’ and we want to encourage more businesses, schools, and local groups to get involved. We're also aiming to expand our seed and cuttings exchanges, and helping local window boxes bloom. Often gardeners can grow a glut of produce so we could establish a swap shop. Plus, developing products for our Hub, as well as create compost and, in time, green energy too.
The Horticultural Hub
(Here's the Mayor of Camden at the opening of our Horticultural Hub, 2017.)
Recently, we’ve taken on another space, our ‘Horticultural Hub’, a former tiny garden centre near our park. This is currently being turned into a community resource for gardening classes, a plant nursery and seating.
(Here are some photos from our first ever 'Families Growing Together' session, October 2017.)
How to Get Involved:
If you would like to get involved in the park, it is extremely easy - we’ve lots of family events, master classes, plant swap shops and advice sessions you can attend. Check our calendar here for up to date listings and for our full 2018 guide.
We are open to any suggestions, and you don’t need to have any experience of gardening to get involved. We are just off Camden High Street - pop in to find out more. We've got lots of activities throughout the year, but if you'd like to get involved regularly, please contact us for more information or drop us an email or call 020 7485 3386.
(Here are our volunteers hard at work at our community gardening sessions that take place on Wednesdays from 10:30 am - 2:30 pm.)
In the last couple of years we've:
• Built four raised beds and grown fruit, vegetables and herbs
• Dried herbs for teas and collected excess fruits for jam/ jellies
• Planted two areas with wildflowers
• Created a woodland edge habitat and found six different bee species, a variety of butterflies, moths, invertebrates and birds
• Propagated plants, taking cuttings and growing from seed
• Planted 10,000 flowering bulbs to provide a source of nectar for bees
• Built some bee and bug hotels
• Built a compost bin out of pallets
• Planted an edible hedgerow
• Planted 50 native trees
• Planted a variety of fruit trees from quince, plum, apple, damson, cherry and pear.
• Planted an area of medicinal herbs
• Created a pond habitat for aquatic species and pond dipping experiences (under redesign)
Our ideas are flowering and ambitions growing. There is a Chinese proverb: the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time is now. This is behind our passion: seizing the opportunity for our space to become a Bloom Town.