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These tiny ‘parks’ are cheering up tube stations

By
Alexandra Sims
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It’s tricky for a city like London to clean up its act, but little ideas can lead to big changes. The Edible Bus stop is transforming London’s transport network into leafy, green spaces

Tiny parks? Cute! How did those come about?

It’s thanks to Mak Gilchrist and Will Sandy. They are two Londoners on a mission to transform bland urban spaces into municipal oases. 

How?

The pair set up the Edible Bus Stop project. It was in response to a planning proposal to build on the only green space in Gilchrist’s neighbourhood – a strip of land near a bus stop. They fought back through guerilla gardening (that’s planting patches of neglected land without permission). 

I guess their illicit gardening worked, then?

Yep. The proposal was turned down and that led to a whole host of wacky pocket gardens popping up at uncared-for sites along the 322 bus route from Clapham Common to Crystal Palace. 

What’s next on the agenda?

The group have turned their attention to our city’s Underground stations, planting mini tropical parks in disused ticket offices. ‘We can’t all afford time to go to big green spaces like Hyde Park,’ says Sandy, ‘so we are injecting green into people’s daily commutes.’ 

Where have they managed to do it?

Take a look at the ticket office at St James’s Park station’s Palmer Street entrance. You’ll see a mini rainforest full of glossy red anthurium and delicate white orchids in mirrored grow units. 

Sounds cool. Why’s it good for us?

‘When we first went into the ticket office at St James’s it was filthy, every surface was black and covered in muck,’ says Gilchrist. ‘After prototyping for a year we found there was barely any dust. The grow units had totally cleaned the air in the ticket office.’ 

Marvellous. I want to help…

You can! Volunteer gardeners of all ages are welcome to muck in at all the Edible Bus Stop’s garden sites and they also need helpers for their latest project: revamping Brixton’s public benches.

Illustrations: Dan Woodger

Find out more at the Edible Bus Stop website.

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