Did you know that Springfield University Hospital is home to a 2.5-acre walled garden? Yes, a working community garden in the middle of suburban Tooting!
The garden is run by Share Community, a local registered charity that provides training and employment support for disabled people, including those with learning disabilities, physical/sensory impairments, autism and mental health needs. Share provides training in horticulture, catering, IT, and life and basic skills.
The garden is where Share runs its accredited horticulture courses and traineeship programmes for disabled people. The physical, mental and social benefits of gardening on a person’s health and wellbeing are widely recognised, so students are encouraged enjoy the beautiful tranquillity of this little piece of green London, while learning and working at a pace that suits them to gain nationally recognised qualifications, and taking part in community events.
As well as herbaceous and shrub borders, and a large pond, the garden boasts three large polytunnels and a heated greenhouse, where students grow decorative and ornamental plants and food crops throughout the year, which are all then sold to raise funds for the charity, and a Bee Lovely Garden, sponsored by Neal’s Yard Remedies, especially designed to encourage bees.
The garden is also headquarters to Share Gardening, a social enterprise, that provides garden maintenance and planting services to local residents and businesses. Share Gardening gives those graduating from Share’s horticulture course a pathway into work, by providing a safe and supported environment in which to gain valuable work experience and employment. So if you need help with your garden or green space, you know who to call!
The Share Community garden will be open to the public as part of Open Garden Squares Weekend on 13-14 June 2015, when you are invited to take a leisurely wander through the beautiful grounds, pick up some plants for sale, and treat yourself to tea and cake, lovingly prepared by Share’s catering students.
Share is also holding an Evening in the Garden fundraising event for the local community in the garden on 17th June 2015, between 6.00pm and 9.00pm, with drinks and canapés, provided by Share Catering, another Share social enterprise run by graduates from its catering course. You can book tickets for this event here. Tickets are free but donations are welcome.