UK’s first postcode gardener springs into action in Hackney

Kate Poland will start as the UK’s first-ever ‘postcode gardener’. She will work with people in the E5 postcode to increase vegetation and wildlife in their streets. This pilot is part of the 10xGreener initiative from Friends of the Earth to transform our towns and cities. The project has already seen Daubeney Road being boosted with plants and wildlife.
  12 Nov 2018    |      4 min

The aim of the postcode gardener model is to overcome a key barrier to making urban spaces 10x greener – most people do not have the time or money to support and maintain the planting necessary to make a real difference.

Kate will work with E5 residents over the next 12 months to bring the community together and give hundreds of front gardens and shared spaces a 10x greener make-over. More than 100 supporters raised nearly £8,000 through a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year to pay for her post for the first year

Kate is already a well-known figure in Hackney’s burgeoning community gardening movement. She runs the Cordwainer’s Garden on Mare Street and the social enterprise Cordwainer’s Grow which delivers community gardening and nature projects across Hackney. This summer she launched a campaign to promote Hackney’s community gardens and protect them from development threats.

Kate says:

“The postcode gardener model is an exciting way to make our streets and estates far better for nature and people. You do not need to be a dedicated gardener. The pilot in Daubeney road has shown is that residents can come together and work with experts to make real differences to the community.”

“There are some simple and practical ways to make a front garden look great and be a real boost for nature. Do this across a community and suddenly our towns and cities start to look and feel really different. Even a little gardening can provide big physical and mental benefits so it’s a win for everyone.

“I’m looking forwards to getting stuck in as a postcode gardener over the next year. I can’t wait to bring grey spaces to life and try out ideas like seed banks, a ‘signature’ wildlife plant and even ‘weed’ champions’.”

Friends of the Earth launched the 10xGreener project earlier this year in one street in the E5 neighbourhood to learn how to do this across the country. Residents on Daubeney Road came together in bursts of weekend activity to make planters and create a more natural, green environment. The project is co-ordinated by Friends of the Earth, and guerrilla geographer and London National Park City founder Daniel Raven Ellison.

Friends of the Earth Director of Disruptive Innovation Hugh Knowles says:

“We know that greener streets are better for people, nature and the environment. They boost our physical and mental health and help wildlife to flourish in urban areas. With over half of wild species in the UK having declined in the last sixty years we urgently need a different kind of urban environment – one with flourishing nature that brings benefits to us all. Nature can, and should, be all around us – not just in parks and the countryside.”

“We are really excited to see the first ever postcode gardener starting work in E5 as Kate brings neighbours together to create fantastic spaces for plants and wildlife. We want to learn how to roll this out to other communities in 2019.”

Kate will work with local groups ecoActive and Daubeney Fields Forever, the crowdfunders and other community partners to take 10xGreener forwards. On 1 December she will hand out 100 garden saplings as part of a tree-planting weekend organised by the Mayor of London. The weekend is the latest event in the Mayor’s drive to make London a National Park City.