by Olly Davy
cold beer slipping down
sausages jostle and spit
my tired brain grows still
Badgers, not houses
It’s a sultry Friday evening in July. I’m barbecuing sausages in the old allotments behind my friends’ garden while dragonflies swoop among the black-eyed Susans. There are plans to transform this place. The designs drawn up by a local horticulturalist paint a beguiling picture. The wildflower meadow abuts an orchard. There are rows of raspberries and gooseberries. A rich mix of tree and shrub species encourages biodiversity: elder, dogwood, hazel; rowan, walnut, field maple. Complete the mental image with darting starlings, grubby, smiling children, and the gentle hum of honeybees. As I turn the sausages, I feel peace, and also a growing sense of purpose.
What is Broadway Community Gardens?
Broadway Community Gardens (BCG) is an urban green space in Frome, Somerset. After decades spent producing food, it fell into disuse. Now dedicated locals are bringing it back to life: clearing rubbish, building flower and vegetable beds, cutting channels through brambles to help badgers thrive.
That sounds great. What’s the problem?
The challenge is that Mendip (county) Council has earmarked the space for a residential development. Until Mendip changes its mind, everything happening here is an act of loving rebellion. Meanwhile Frome Town Council has declared a climate emergency, highlighting the need for the town’s residents to live in a slower, more sustainable way. To achieve that, we need spaces like BCG. They offer a connection to the environment, both human and natural, that’s critical to our survival.
What am I going to do about it?
I can’t solve the world’s problems on my own, but by accepting my individual responsibility and engaging in collective action I can contribute to transformative change. On that summer’s evening, BCG gifted me a glimpse of life lived more mindfully. I owe a debt of gratitude.
I pledge to:
Answer the call to protect Broadway Community Gardens
Lend my support in any way I feel able
Pick litter whether it’s raining or sunny
Clear weeds even though it’s boring
Join in group activities although I might be feeling antisocial (it always lifts my mood)
Get my kids involved (even though they say they’d rather watch telly)
Learn about the politics involved and refuse to be alienated by bureaucracy
Keep an open mind and welcome different opinions
Spread the word and encourage others to join in
Lay down in front of the bulldozers if they come*
*Only joking—hopefully it’ll never come to that
Read Philip Dundas’s 26 Habitats urban greenspaces centena and essay.
Read Samantha Xia Symonds’s 26 Habitats urban greenspaces centena and essay.