Protest Trees For Protest Land

Published on May 29th 2019
A sign in front of a tree
Photos and words by Max Thrower
As part of the Chelsea Fringe, we went along to the planting of two Extinction Rebellion 'Protest Trees' at the Grenfell Commemorative Community Garden.
A close up of a flower garden in front of a building
The Grenfell Commerorative Community Garden

The Garden

In 2014, North Kensington resident Marcia Robinson left her nine to five as a social practitioner and set up Just Solutions 123 with four other women. The group aims to provide peer support for people who feel anxious, depressed or isolated in their community.
Based on the feedback from their regular peer support workshops, the group started gardening groups in 2016 and, following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, the group took over the Grenfell Commemorative Community Garden.
A person wearing a hat
Liocal resident Marcia Robinson is in charge of the garden.
'We are hoping to equalise economic disparity and provide a place of social inclusion' Marcia said. 'We have provided space for those who are unemployed or long term substance abusers to feel included in community activities and to feel meaningful again.
'We're very proud to be given two of the trees from Waterloo Bridge protest because this is protest land too. We're protesting the behaviour of the local authorities in regards to North Kensington'.
A man standing in front of a tree
Local resident Floyd is part of the Trees4Grenfell team and a gardening volunteer

The Trees

As part of the Chelsea Fringe, Mak Gilchrest, Founding Director of the Edible Bus Stop, organised the planting of two Malus 'Protest Trees' in the garden. The trees were initially part of the Extinction Rebellion (ER) occupation of Waterloo Bridge last month.
Mak set up The Edible Bus Stop in 2011, after inspiring her local community to transform a patch of land that was set for private residences into a community garden. The project has since created a series of Edible Bus Stops - urban green spaces across the capital. Read more about how it all started.
'I founded The Edible Bus Stop to improve unloved, unused and forgotten spaces with greenery - creating places where people can come together with a sense of community.' Mak told Candide.
A person in a yellow shirt in a garden in front of grenfell tower
'I can't claim to have created the garden bridge, but the trees were my bit.'
'The ER organisers contacted me and said they wanted to create a horticultural intervention on Waterloo Bridge, which is exactly the kind of thing that we do. We ended up with 47 trees, and then the general public added so many more plants. I can't claim to have created the garden bridge, but the trees were my bit.'
'I'm now in charge of relocating the trees. I still have eight to go and they've gone all over. From the Martin Luther King School in Islington to the Transition Town Tooting Community Garden.'
'What ER has done is made me want to push myself as an activist, using greening as my medium. Keep pushing those boundaries.'
A couple of people that are standing in a garden, planting a tree
'These are protest trees for protest land!' Marcia said as the trees were planted.
We also spoke to Alex from Sterling Landscapes, who leant time and resources to help plant the trees. 'What they've done here is amazing.' said Alex. 'They have made a fully blooming garden right underneath the Westway, in the heart of the city. They now need more of the community to come together and get involved.'
A group of people planting a tree in a community garden
Landscapers lend a hand

The Future

Marcia shared with us what the next steps were for the garden; 'Well, we want to develop this entire space into a family friendly area. We also want a community greenhouse for workshops, one of those great big beehive shaped buildings filled with greenery. But we need more people to get involved! We're also hoping that commercial companies and sponsors invest to help our Community Kitchen business plan develop into a sustainable community enterprise.'
'So if anyone fancies improving not only their social footprint but the environment as well, get in touch!'
Find out more at www.trees4grenfell.

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