A Grenfell-born non-profit debuted the smallest ever garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023.
Grow2Know was founded in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy and aims to empower young people through horticulture. This year, the charity returned to Chelsea with The Green Gap Garden – the smallest garden yet – to raise awareness of the lack of green space available to the most deprived households in one of the wealthiest areas in London, and in the UK overall.
'The Green Gap' is a term coined to describe the contrast in access to green space between privileged and underprivileged Londoners.
Garden designer Danny Clarke and Grow2Know founder Tayshan Hayden-Smith launched the tiny plot that's a fraction of the size of last year's Hands Off Mangrove Garden. Grow2Know partnered with design practice Prior + Partners to create the space, which features local plants and weeds that you would expect to find in the local community, such as dandelion, thyme and chamomile.
The garden totals 4.2m2, a 1:10 scale representation of green space available to the most deprived residents living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The concrete build is said to 'signify the harsh truth of inequality within the borough, while hardy native plants emerge through a large open crack representing The Green Gap'.
The benefits of having access to green space is well documented. In fact, mental health charity Mind reports that time in nature can help to boost positive feelings, reduce stress, encourage us to keep physically active and even alleviate loneliness. Research from Prior + Partners also found that having access to green spaces can even result in less visits to the GP, and save the NHS millions a year.
And yet, despite the benefits, many communities in the UK still do not have adequate access to green spaces. Grow2Know found that residents in Notting Dale, the ward where Grenfell is situated and Grow2Know was born, have access to only 4.2m2 of total public parks and gardens per person within a 1km radius (12min walk), equivalent to three parking bays. In contrast, their neighbours in the nearby Queen's Gate, have access to 2,149m2, the equivalent to two five-a‐side football pitches.
Speaking about the garden, Tayshan said: 'Making the most of the small exhibit space at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, we’re using the opportunity to raise awareness of The Green Gap by unveiling the smallest show garden ever seen at the event. The meagre 4.2m2 build signifies the amount of green space available to one of the most deprived wards in RBKC – a visual representation of the stark reality of inequality within the borough.
'As an organisation that strongly believes everyone should have equal access to green space, we are dedicated to driving and inspiring change, and we’ll make it our mission to make gardening more inclusive and naturally accessible to all through ongoing community-driven gardening projects and education.'
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