New shoots


Lydia Fraser-Ward co-founded the Woodford Greeners earlier this year to help improve the local area. From workshops to seed swaps, the group have big plans for their greening projects

Woodford Greeners is a community gardening group set up by local residents to help clean up and green up neglected public areas around Snakes Lane East and the broader Woodford Green area.

The group was initially conceived by myself and my neighbour, Mariam Elazoui. We spent many hours walking around the area together with our children only to find hedgerows strewn with litter and planters filled with weeds. We are also both keen gardeners and eager to share knowledge, skills and resources with other residents.

After discovering we both had many unwanted seed packets building up in our garden sheds, we decided to organise our very first community event, a free seed swap at the James Leal Centre in Ray Park back in March. We were both surprised and delighted when we found over 200 seed packets had been donated or exchanged with other local residents and decided to formalise the gardening group going forward. Since then, the Woodford Greeners has delivered a number of community gardening projects, including new flowers for the high street planters on Snakes Lane East, Prospect Road, James Leal Café and outside Ray Lodge Primary School. The group have also organised a free seedling swap, where more than 100 plants were exchanged or given to local residents for free, as well as several litter picks around the area.

It’s been such a pleasure to spend this spring and summer volunteering with other local residents to give Woodford Green a bit of a tidy-up. The area has suffered some neglect in recent years, so we’ve enjoyed replacing weeds with colourful flowers and getting rid of unsightly litter. We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of local people who have given up their free time to help out, and even put their hands in their pockets to club together to buy the plants. It shows that there really is a strong sense of community and civic pride in this area.

We are now developing a workshop programme for the autumn, which focuses on food growing as well as outdoor craft skills, having already delivered a free composting workshop with support from Redbridge Council’s Neighbourhood Engagement team in May. The group is also currently working on a permanent seed library for Ray Park, where local people can drop off unwanted or out-of-date seeds at any time and collect replacements for free. And we have big plans for more greening projects in the area going forward. 

If you’d like to find out more or volunteer, do get in touch.

For more information on the Woodford Greeners, visit swvg.co.uk/greeners or email woodfordgreeners@gmail.com