Waste not!

When I first became involved with Bandstand Beds we shared an aim with Lambeth Council to create a composting site on Clapham Common, in the area known then as ‘the dump’. Part of this is now the site of BBA’s community garden on Windmill Drive.

This is where we run our Saturday produce stall.

Over the years masses of green waste left at the dump had broken down to become a useable growing medium. So working with Lambeth Council, BBA held compost giveaways next to our original Bandstand (namesake) beds by the café on Clapham Common.

Keen local growers

People came from far and wide and as BBA Chair at the time, Fiona Law, reported in her blog: ‘Collection means included compost bags and M&S carrier reuse, bike trailers – and later Marianne from Notre Dame estate came by with her supermarket trolley.’

The giveaways were a huge success and interest in food growing on Clapham Common also began to take off.

When I became Chair in 2014, Lambeth Council offered BBA a derelict corner of the dump to transform into a community garden.  An enormous undertaking at the time for such a small organisation, but BBA’s handful of members were up for the challenge and began fundraising.  

Polytunnel marks the spot.

With a successful Lottery application and a grant of just over £7,000 we were able to install the first landmark in our new garden – the polytunnel. A visual intrusion to some local residents, a beacon of community spirit to others. Before long we had lots of keen gardeners from both Lambeth and Wandsworth wanting to sign up for membership and get involved in food growing on Clapham Common.

With so much new interest, in 2017 Lambeth Council allowed us to take on more land to extend our garden. This gave us space to install a shipping container, bought for us by the Clapham BID (This is Clapham). The container has been fitted out as a field kitchen, allowing us to cook, sit and eat the food we grow together. And it’s fair to say some of our older members come along to Bandstand Beds just for the company.

With our garden now a thriving community growing space and hub of social activity, towards the end of last year we turned our attention back to our original aim of creating a composting facility. With permission from Lambeth Council to take on an area of the site adjacent to our garden, we made an application to the National Lottery Community Fund for a grant of just over £9,000 for the project – and we were successful!

Lambeth levelling the ground.

At the end of August, Lambeth Council began levelling the land ready for The Conservation Volunteers Lambeth to begin constructing the bays, which were completed mid-September. BBA will now be able to recycle all of its green waste, as well as from other growing sites on the Common. The compost produced in the new bays will be used in our own growing spaces on the Common. It will also be made available to schools and other local community organisations, when available.

The finished bays

We will begin using the new bays at an inaugural Composting for Beginners Workshop on Saturday 9 October. This will also be a mini celebration of BBA’s journey from its humble beginnings with a few raised beds next to the café at the Bandstand, to its present-day hub of food growing activity in the heart of Clapham Common – at our community garden and composting site.

If you would like more information about membership and taking part at Bandstand Beds, click on this link to visit our website.

Written by David Dandridge, BBA Chair.

BBA would like to acknowledge thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund for its financial support for our composting project and for the two grants we have received from them previously. As well as the two grants already mentioned above, we received £6,160 funding for a composting toilet and pathways in 2019.

We would also like to thank Lambeth Council for all the help and support it has given to BBA over the years, particularly the staff we work closely with on Clapham Common.

PLEASE NOTE: Since posting this blog BBA has received lots of emails from people wanting to donate their food or garden waste. This is not something we are able to facilitate.