If you’ve ever travelled on the Overground between Whitechapel and Shoreditch High Street, you may have spied a collection of graffiti-covered buildings sticking out from the rest of the city like a colourful sore thumb. This is Nomadic Community Gardens, a not-for-profit urban oasis. Before it came along the space had been empty for 20 years, but thanks to a team of volunteers it was transformed into an open garden with 160 allotment beds, London’s largest legal street-art wall, a gallery space and boxing gym.
It has been going strong for four and a half years, but has announced that at the end of September it will be closing down when the land’s lease is passed on to another company.
‘It was always going to be a meanwhile space,’ explains its creative director, Damien Doughty. ‘We only expected the place to be open for six months, so to have been here for so long has been fantastic.’
The garden will be open to the public until Sunday, so don’t miss the chance to explore its maze of cobbled paths. You’ll find them lined with flower beds and sculptures made from old tyres as well as shops and businesses built from scratch with rickety corrugated iron. Look out for impromptu live music jams that start up from nowhere.
‘We’re not seeing this as the end, but as the beginning,’ says Damien. ‘We’ve shown how much you can do in a temporary space and we’re hoping it now goes way beyond the garden. We hope the people who’ve created a community here will be inspired to start their own projects.’ We’re sad to see it go. Let’s hope the nomads are just moving on to their next adventure.
The next few months will be dedicated to dismantling the gardens and making the site operational for the next owner. If you’d like to volunteer to lend a hand drop them a message on Facebook.
Nomadic Community Gardens, Fleet St Hill, E2 6EE. Shoreditch High St Overground.
Read more about the Nomadic Community Gardens here.
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Images: Andy Parsons