Molly Gadenz of the Lower Regents Coalition writes:
The Lower Regents Coalition is a volunteer group formed in June 2013 by two individuals who had a shared appreciation for their local stretch of the Regents Canal in Tower Hamlets. We run volunteer litter picks every month in partnership with Moo Canoes, the canoe and kayak hire in Limehouse Basin. We estimate we have run over 80 cleanup events where volunteers have collected over 1200 bags of rubbish from the canal.
We will continue our regular cleanups but have expanded our goals with our ‘Greening the Regents’ project. This project involves launching a series of improvement schemes along the canal. Phase I of the project followed on from a grant for over £9,900 we received from the Tower Hill Trust. We used this funding to install aquatic planting schemes in the canal in Spring 2015. These consist of floating planters, coir rolls and pallets seeded with reeds, sedges and iris, and cover a length of approximately 110 metres. The plantings are thriving and add habitat for wildlife and visual beauty to the area.
Following on from the success of Phase I of the project, we received another grant from the Tower Hill Trust for
£5,000 to launch Phase II. We have used this funding to create two meadows on either side of the canal at Ben Johnson Lock, bringing approximately 300 square metres of more biodiverse landscape to the area. Creating the meadows was hard work! Over the course of eight volunteer events, we removed an estimated 150 tonnes of topsoil from the meadows, lined the beds with landscaping fabric to surpress weeds, then topped the beds with an 8 inch layer of crushed sand and concrete. This poorer-quality growing medium is actually what more sustainable plants like herbs and wild flowers prefer. With the assistance of staff from Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and Grounded EcoTherapy, we planted over 200 plant plugs, all of which are native to Great Britain and are either
edible and/or medicinal. We also sowed annual seeds for added colour and planted six silver birch whips. The preparatory work was completed in 2016, with the planting finished in February 2017. The new meadows look great and will look even better when they fill in with blooms and foliage.
Our Greening the Regents project is all about enhancing the local environment and inviting people to help us enjoy and care for it. We believe we are affecting change and making a positive difference in our community and look forward to carrying on.
Header photo: preparing the north meadow site (Lower Regents Coalition). Click photos to enlarge