(Photo: Celia Lowe)
Providence Row is a homelessness charity in east London. Over the last three years, we have transformed our outside spaces into flourishing gardens where people can receive accredited gardening training, learning about soil and composting, organic gardening and raising plants.
Our courtyard garden is a quiet green haven off the bustle of Brick Lane. Developed in 2013, the charity’s clients, volunteers and staff have together transformed the concrete urban yard into a green oasis. A large Robinia
tree spans an area of native woodland planting. Raised beds with a vibrant mix of herbaceous perennials provide colour all year round. Mobile planters are used to provide further greenery and create a flexible, therapeutic and beautiful environment for the services and activities taking place throughout the week at this busy centre.
Moving away from our lush courtyard garden, tucked away on the rooftop is our secret allotment. An organically run garden, we grow a wide range of edible produce and have pockets of wildlife, ponds and wildflower planting to increase biodiversity. The garden is incredibly productive and grows everything from bottle gourds to zucchini.
A 'forest garden' corner supports large fruit and nut shrubs with edible underplanting, and we are developing vertical planting beds to accommodate more produce. Higher up is our apiary, where a colony of bees are busy pollinating our produce and making honey. Much of the fruit, vegetables and herbs from this garden are used in our kitchen, which produces breakfasts and lunches for 30-50 rough sleepers who use the centre every day.