Neighbours living on Crayford Road, N7, came together to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The party hasn’t stopped since then, and continues to grow.
Before 2012, Crayford Road was a typical inner-city residential road, with few residents on first-name terms. This has all changed thanks to the green-fingered energy of a core group of friends who took it upon themselves to clean up the street and get to know their neighbours.
The Crayford Road Gardeners have always focused on helping local people feel like they are part of a community. By taking pride in the area – including cleaning up what was informally known as ‘Crapford Road’ – this small but highly active group has a profound positive impact on the lives of local residents.
Conversations are key for the residents of Crayford Road, as the gardeners keep an ear out for news and issues in the local area. Whether at the launderette, newsagent, or just out and about, the group keep an eye on their neighbours. They offer friendly support and an open door to anyone who is struggling.
This hasn’t always been easy; neighbours didn’t know how to react to the first harvest of fruit and veg from the Gardeners’ planters. But after spreading the word verbally, and through home-made flyers, the road’s cherry trees, basil plants and courgettes are now a talking point (and food source) for residents young and old.
The Gardeners listened to local need, and installed a new backed bench outside the local newsagent, allowing older residents to sit comfortably and chat on warmer mornings. The surroundings are now a nicer space to just ‘be’. Islington Council has donated litter scoops and sweeping tools, so that the Gardeners can head out on the first Sunday of each month to clear weeds and collect litter.
There are frequent, well-attended meetings, which start off by discussing formal business and eventually become a friendly chat. A long-term resident in her 70s started a new monthly book group, where gardening tips are exchanged for tips for great reads, to be enjoyed in the sun or in cosier surroundings. This gardener had lived on Crayford Road for 19 years before meeting anyone other than her upstairs neighbour. Now, she is the beating heart of the street, bringing people together to sing, share stories, bake and have a cuppa.
The street feels much friendlier now. Neighbours share things (and stories), people look out for each other, our children are playing together and it’s always easy to find a babysitter.
Hayley, Founder, Crayford Road Gardeners
The gardeners are now in the process of expanding to nearby streets. Having helped neighbours on Bardolph and Tabley Road install planters and benches last summer, the Crayford group are looking forward to the nicer weather to continue their work on transforming the outdoors space for more local people.