When the boat dwellers of the E2 Collective got planning permission for permanent residential moorings opposite Victoria Park, one of the planning conditions was to build a community garden. The garden, which includes food growing areas and wild flowers, as well as the ancient wharf wall, was created behind the Canal Club community centre on Waterloo Gardens E2, on an area with a history of neglect and abuse. This was all built at the beginning of 2011 and it has been a great success. The first open day attracted over 80 visitors within 4 hours!
Some very unusual wild visitors have also turned up. A Muntjac deer was regularly seen in the area for a couple of months in autumn 2011, even taking a swim in the canal, as shown in the photo on the left. On 14 September 2011, a Violet Carpenter Bee paid a visit to the garden – see the photo above. This very large, spectacular bee, is common in southern Europe, but was only recorded in Britain for the first time a few years ago. It is turning up here more frequently, presumably as a result of climate change, but remains a rare sight. Both photos were taken by E2 Collective member Sally Hone.
The boat dwellers are now looking to improve another disused derelict piece of land that is normally used as a dumping ground, alongside the canal at Lark Row. Here, with the help from Tower Hamlets Council, they hope to a larger and more accessible community garden with daily use for all the local residents and community.
They are also working with Thames21 to clean up a stretch of wild canal bank behind their moorings, and everyone is welcome to come along and help. This is approximately 150 metres long and currently covered in rubbish. On Friday 9th March, as part of Thames21’s Big Waterways Cleanup 2012, volunteers will be be surveying and managing the vegetation, removing litter and generally helping make this a nicer spot for visitors. See Thames21’s website for more details.