The Curator Collective
The Curator Collective
The garden that’s growing a community
A huge amount of sickness is as a result of separation from others.
Rasheeqa Ahmad describes herself as a ‘Community Herbalist’ but, as she freely admits, the emphasis is very much on the ‘community’ part.
Her patients come to her looking for relief for their pains and discomforts and while she’ll invariably have a tincture or a herbal remedy that can help, her long-term solution often involves encouraging them to reconnect with the world around them.
“The traditional definition of a herbalist is someone who is a conduit between people and plants; we link the natural world with the people that live in it” says Rasheeqa.
A massive part of the world around us is the other humans we surround ourselves with… our community.
It’s a philosophy that has its roots with her Great Grandfather who set up what could loosely be described as an ‘apothecary’ in Moradabad, Northern India in 1917.
There, the apothecary was seen as a communal meeting place; herbalists weren’t ‘tucked away’ in the back of the store, they were front and centre and known by everyone in the village.
And while establishing a deeper link with the people around you as well as the earth beneath your feet might have been significantly easier in turn of the century India, both are considerably harder to make connections with in inner city London, 2019.
Having moved to the East London borough of Walthamstow nearly 10 years ago, Rasheeqa’s experienced the world around her changing dramatically; from the faces she sees, to the buildings that are erected, to the Council’s attempts to preserve and develop the area’s green spaces.
Deciding to take matters into her own hands, she applied for, and was awarded, a grant from the William Morris Big Local National Lottery Community Fund to turn an unkempt patch of land at the end of her road into a forest garden – a low-maintenance, sustainable permaculture that, in time, will be able to support itself through an interconnected collection of trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and vegetables.
But, of course, Rasheeqa didn’t want to do it alone.
Starting with neighbours and friends, Rasheeqa went door to door encouraging the Walthamstow community to be her fellow gardeners. Several months into the project, G. Baldwin & Co. caught up with her as she held a community planting day at her ‘patch’ before heading to the mature Burgess Park Food Project at the Glengall Wharf Garden; a source of inspiration for her endeavor. Our video picks up the story.
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“The Forest Garden we’re creating is helping to bring the community together” says Rasheeqa. “People who would previously walk past each other in the street without recognising each other, now stop and say hello. It makes all of us feel proud of where we’re from.
When we’re connected to each other we’re not only happier, we’re healthier. That’s the real magic of this project.
Click here to find out more about Rasheeqa and her various community projects.
Click here to find out more about how G. Baldwin and Co. is helping to care for the environment.