Thursday, 15 April 2010

paradise lost

If I stand on my doorstep by St John-sub-Castro I can smell the balsam poplars down by the river. Their powerful scent draws me into their web of life, a web that seems to spread very far in this expansive springtime when the planet breathes a long breath out. At the other end of the North Street industrial estate, the wild patch along Green Lane has been cut to the ground, and with it has gone all the diversity of life that lived there. I was especially fond of the many little birds that lived and sang in those big scrubby bushes. Every time I walked through, almost daily, my heart would sing a little in celebration. A few years ago someone identified the birds there, and it was considered a bit of a bird haven. Now it's gone forever. I wonder what will replace it. Perhaps some concrete or some turf. Pity.

There’s also a community garden springing up in the middle of North Street, behind Pop Up Studios, which used to be the old fire headquarters. A group of artists and designers have been given a lease for two years while the estate is in limbo, along with many other creative small businesses populating other warehouses in North Street. So a few of us are starting to clean up the land; call it earth repair. We’ve removed the rubbish, cut back the brambles, made paths for the people who use it as a walk through from the car park, including willow arches, bowers and hideouts for children. Huge pallets from the Cuilfail tunnel work are being filled with soil from Freecycle, edible perennials and vegetable seeds. Young gardeners are teaching other people how to make compost and grow biodynamically. You’re welcome to join in. This is rebuilding a web of a kind, a community growing around growing food together. Because of the demand for land to grow food on nationally, these initiatives are cropping up all over England, and in response the government has created a Meanwhile Lease, to officially make undeveloped land available to grow vegetables. Now, about those lovely several acres of St Anne’s School in Lewes that ESCC is sitting on...
I do hope that loads of people turn up to the exhibition of visions for the North Street area, under the name of Phoenix Rising. Back at the end of last year, many disparate people came together, after wide invitation, to pool their ideas, one of which was the community garden referred to above. It’s a real, grassroots-led but thought through initiative serving Lewes, a chance to add our own hopes for the North Street area. So do make time to go along to the Town Hall next week.


cardinal arts said...

hi there- I had planned on commenting on this earlier, but finally got to it; I live on green Wall and was shocked to come home one day to find almost all the trees and bushes completely removed from the other side of the wall. We had been pleading with the factory to keep it tidier, as passersby felt it ade a great rubbish bin, but never wanted everything gone! We have lost so many virds that iused to sit in those bushes to feed and sing.
Wouldn't it have been wonderful if the owner could have had another vision, other than crushed concrete? How about asking us Green Wallers if we would like to use the space for our own allotments? Isn't there a waiting list for places to grow elsewhere in the town? Or maybe see if Ruth O'Keefe and her gardening genies would like to plant flowers there? I know that would take extra effort to arrange and always the danger of it being just makes me sad walking along there.......when the smells of the flowers and the singing of the birds used to lift my spirits coming home.
(maybe I am being naive?)

thanks for letting me "comment!"

adrienne campbell said...

Alas, it's too late for that. Once biodiversity is eradicated it's very hard to rebuild it. That site isn't any good for growing food and a patch of daffodils isn't ever going to replace the complexity of that beautiful piece of wild land. All we can do is cherish the remaining wild places and protect them from further tidiness.