BBC London - The Breakfast Show

Tuesday 11th March 2014

Penny Smith and Paul Ross talking to head teacher Amanda Rees and pupil Annie.

Penny: London's canals. I was along the canal on Saturday. I cycled along the canal to Camden Market. My goodness, as soon as you got towards Camden Market "my goodness how packed was it?" But there are bits where you think "there's not much happening over there". They are one of the capitals greatest draws - London's canals - but maintaining the hundreds of miles of waterway can be tough and sometimes areas fall into disrepair. One such area is on the Regent's Canal a bit further along from Camden as you are coming from West to East. It is in Islington and it has been taken over by pupils from the local school and they are creating a community garden. Amanda Rees is head teacher of Hanover Primary School in Islington. We are going to also talk to Annie one of the pupils who helped to build the garden. She is 11 and in Year 6.Good morning to you both. Amanda, if I can address you first and ask you a question. Where exactly on the canal is this project? In Islington?
Amanda: It's in Islington right on the Regent's Canal by the City Road Basin.
Penny: Ah, lovely. How did you get involved in this then?
Amanda: A group of parents along with me and some other staff decided that this area was really looking very sad indeed. There were some old patches of grass that needed development and we use the canal towpath quite a lot both in terms of the school but also a lot of our families walk and cycle along the towpath. It's a very well used area but it was looking, as I said, very very sad and tired and we decided it would be a good idea to try to develop it both for the school and also for the community as a whole.
Paul: Amanda, what support have you received. Whose help?
Amanda: We've had a lot of support from the Canal and River Trust. Also a grant from the Mayor of London and GLA Transform Pocket Parks scheme so there has been funding from them. We've had lots and lots of help from parent volunteers, other local volunteers, children from the school and staff as well.
Penny: You dug up 16 tonnes of soil, I understand.
Amanda: 16 tonnes of soil were delivered on a very big boat on Saturday afternoon.
Penny: On a barge?
Amanda: On a barge with a crane and the crane heaved onto the towpath these huge one-tonne each bags of soil. About 80 of the volunteers on Saturday came and filled our beautiful new raised beds and other areas.
Penny: let's talk to Annie now then. Did your soil come with worms, by the way, Annie? Did you notice any worms?
Annie: No I don't think it did.
Penny: So, very nice clean and tidy earth. So let's talk about this community garden. What is it going to look like when it's finished?
Annie: It's going to be really bright and colourful. We are going to have trees, plants, flowers, possibly a few edible things.
Penny: Ooh, I'm interested now. Like carrots you mean?
Annie: Possibly, we're not sure yet. We've only planted about half of all the things we want to plant.
Paul: When are you doing this, Annie? Are you doing it in school time or are you volunteering at weekends or after school?
Annie: Volunteering at weekends.
Penny: Do you like gardening then?
Annie: Yes, I love it.
Penny: Had you done much before, then?
Annie: I have done gardening at my Grandma's house.
Penny: What's the best bit about gardening?
Annie: I like planting all the new plants because they will eventually grow into big trees and it's such a nice atmosophere.
Penny: I know, I agree. Thank you very much Annie and thank you also to Amanda Rees from Hanover Primary School in Islington. I'm going to go and cycle even further next time and I'm going to have a quick look at it.