Homeless centre welcomes new residents
St Mungo’s Spring Gardens hostel in Lewisham welcomes the homeless of London - and bees too, thanks to a new Bee World. Anne-Marie from Lewisham Gardens who runs the residents' gardening programme for St Mungo’s, takes up the story.
"The St Mungo’s Bee World was first planted in late autumn 2012.
We had started a kitchen garden and greenhouse project in spring, attracting local volunteers via social media. A wildflower meadow was on our list in order to attract pollinators for our kitchen garden.
So when we were approached by Ted Burke and Richard Shaw of Lewisham Friends of the Earth, we organised a fun joint event in autumn, with St Mungo’s' residents and staff, and Lewisham Gardens volunteers. The Friends of the Earth local group members came along in yellow T-shirts and bee-shaped deely-boppers.
We planted more in 2013, and in spring 2014, working with local volunteers and St Mungo’s residents, we tackled a very large bed by hand. We stripped heavy, weedy thatch and then dug and raked it over. Soil prep turned out to be hard work!
The Bee Cause campaign fits really well with our campaign to Get Lewisham Growing! We've been encouraging people to plant patches of wildflowers in their own gardens, in abandoned street planters and under street trees.
Since planting our Bee World, St Mungo’s has seen lots of bees and butterflies, and flying insects galore. The wildflower meadow project has caught the local imagination and we've given out scores of seed packs to community and children's groups across the borough.
Local bee-keeper, Alan Foster, says, “My bees have reaped the benefit of all the bee-friendly plants and flowers from St Mungo’s and elsewhere. One of these colonies is really vigorous, and has produced 80lbs of honey so far this year, with possibly another 40lbs yet to come. This compares to last year when they struggled to survive.”
Spring Gardens is St Mungo’s flagship site – residents and key workers have enjoyed sitting in amongst the beautiful flowers.
Residents regularly stop me to say what they've seen or to ask me to identify a particular plant. They've loved it. And so have centre staff.”
Update! How is St Mungo's Bee World doing now?
Watch this video to hear staff and residents tell their story.