A West Kensington resident turned his local park into the heart of the community after forming a green-fingered gardening group.
Over recent years, Australia-born Sean Adamson of Avonmore Road has rallied concerned neighbours and created the Friends of Marcus Garvey Park, which he chairs.
The group’s gardening schemes have been instrumental in bringing a new lease of life to the secluded green space, creating an area residents now cherish and take ownership of.
In addition, recently installed CCTV cameras funded by Hammersmith & Fulham Council has helped rid the park of anti-social behaviour and reduced the theft of plants.
“It has been good to show people that you actually can change things,” Sean says. “It was strange when I first came to London seven years ago as people seemed to think they had no control or influence on the environment around them.
“The Friends have had a really positive effect. People talk to each other now. They feel safer in the park and can actually sit down on the grass now. Before it was basically a minefield of dogs’ mess! And I think some people have made new friends and it’s certainly improved relationships with the local schools [St James and Avonmore Primary].
“The Friends have helped turn Marcus Garvey Park into a space that is valued by the community, rather than somewhere that you keep your head down and is just a shortcut to somewhere else.”
Mr Adamson also praised the council’s decision to ban harmful glyphosate pesticides which he said would transform wildlife in local parks and welcomed the council’s invitation for residents to put plants in their tree bases.
“Banning Glyphosate is a great initiative, but will take a while before things really start growing again and all the worms and other organisms come back to the soil, so people need to be patient,” he said.“And planting in tree basins has the potential to grow into something bigger too, because once people have changed that tiny bit of space, the chances are they might want to go on do something a bit bigger, like a planter.”
Mr Adamson used to regularly change the plants in his window box, but then realised he could re-plant them in the park where there were few and it would brighten it up.
From there he founded the Friends – with the help of Hammersmith Community Gardens Association – which has seen the park go from strength to strength.
Last year, grant funding paid for fencing to create a separate wildlife area now used by the schoolchildren, and walls surrounding the park are covered by a bee-themed mural by local artist Tania Beaumont.
The Friends now has 80 members and undertakes a range of activities, most recently the group made and painted bird boxes. You can find out more about them by visiting their Facebook page.