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THE GAR­DEN AL­LOWS US TO REACH OUT TO LONELY PEO­PLE AND MAKE

THEM FEEL A LIT­TLE BIT BET­TER.

In one of Lon­don’s poor­est and most eth­ni­cally di­verse bor­oughs,

Paula Yas­sine is bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether through the

“lit­tle green oa­sis” that is St Mary’s Se­cret Gar­den in Hack­ney.

Jux­ta­posed against the high-rise blocks that sur­round it, this beau­ti­ful space in­cludes food grow­ing, a small wood­land, a herb and sen­sory zone, a glasshouse, a silent space and a well­ness gar­den. A place for lo­cal peo­ple to meet, re­lax and share, St Mary’s also pro­vides hor­ti­cul­tural ther­apy, ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing.

“I love pass­ing on my knowl­edge and see­ing all ages and cul­tures in­ter­act­ing with na­ture,” says Paula. “I spend more time than I’d like at a com­puter, prov­ing to fun­ders that gar­den­ing is good and their money will be safe with us, so there’s a sense of re­lief and pride when an ap­pli­ca­tion is ap­proved as it means we can reach out to a few more lonely peo­ple and try to make their lives a lit­tle bit bet­ter.”

In­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing or set­ting up a com­mu­nity gar­den? Visit stmarysse­cret gar­den.org.uk or The Fed­er­a­tion of City Farms and Gar­dens at far­m­gar­den.org.uk

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