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Yesterday I was lucky. I was invited to volunteer alongside some old buddies from my old workplace for the day at Cable St Community Gardens in the East End (Stepney in old Cockney money).

It’s an annual event. We go along and volunteer in a community to make a difference. It’s intended to bring us closer to a community and bring communities together – the ethos of the charity. 

I took the camera along, as you do, and came home with these images. Who knew it would be such a wonderfully sunny day? And who knew that Cable St Community Gardens would be so gorgeous? Well, most everyone else apparently. I was completely blissed out by the place.

Wherever you look in the gardens, a substantial collective of community garden plots bifurcated by DLR arches, are flowers of every size, height and hue, berries, apple trees, pear trees, even a very healthy vine loaded with grapes. And that was just on view above the surface – a couple of us left with handfuls of jerusalem artichokes from a bin bag.

But for me the biggest story of the place is, well, the place. The splicing of one of the country’s best known inner city stories with quiet, abundant community greenery is an easy juxtaposition to notice and attempt to capture with a camera or canvas. I know. 

Yet, more than that, the sunflowers in front of the tower blocks over there and the greenhouse growing chillies beneath the busy rail tracks over there remind you that communities are growth and life, wherein residents have the living memory of the place as a village with it’s own butcher, baker and dairy, grocer, greengrocer and chimney sweep; that remember sleeping under the arches together during the blitz and waking up together unsure if the house, or Dad, had survived the night. Communities where everyone knew everyone and most everything about somewhere. 

And that to me is the essence of community, and I’m doubly reminded of it today as I’m going through all the photos. You have to know each other. It takes time and circumstance. Birth, death and all of the growth in between. 

And turns out I really enjoy taking photos in gardens 🙂

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