Thu, June 11, 2020
Castlehaven is a special place because of the wonderful people who use our services and the tireless work of our staff and volunteers. Everyone has a story to tell and we want to hear yours. In this People of Castlehaven we discover what makes our Environmental Engagement Manager Nichola Daunton tick.
Nichola was attracted to community work as she wants to help create a “better society”, and this is particularly pertinent as people are currently struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic. Castlehaven appealed to Nichola as she wanted to promote how engaging with nature and following a healthy lifestyle can “help people heal time and time again”. A key component of the Castlehaven Environment Project is to protect local nature and teach individuals how to live greener lives. Nichola believes combating climate change is humanity’s “biggest challenge” and is proud to work for a charity that promotes sustainable living.
Gardening was not Nichola's original calling. Whilst working as a freelance writer she was living in a Brockley house share with an “overgrown and neglected garden”. She decided to clear the garden, and once it was empty grew vegetables for the first time – “that was it, I was hooked”. Nichola then started volunteering at a gardening project whilst studying at the Royal Horticulture Society. Pursuing a career in gardening has helped her overcome “difficult times” and developed a passion for “encouraging people to connect with nature and discover its amazing benefits”.
Nichola has had a huge impact on the Castlehaven Environment project, you just need to look at the changes to our Community Park to see her handy work. During her tenure Nichola has helped create a new food growing area for local residents to use and re-landscaped a large section of the park to make it much more user-friendly for families and children. Other contributions include the planting of over 40 climbing plants – including ivy, honeysuckle, jasmine and clematis, which over the coming years will hide the existing fencing and turn it into a living wall for birds and insects to live in. She’s also sown wildflower seed to create an area of natural beauty and thriving biodiversity. A favourite amongst the community is Fresh Fridays, Nichola’s plant & veg shop which sells organically & locally grown produce.
If Nichola could be any tree she’d be a Bayan Tree, why: “ They live a long time, look cool and are great for climbing.”
Thank you for all your hard work Nichola!