Beloved Battersea community garden to be dug up by "heartless" housing association

Wandsworth Guardian: Lesley Rankin, Helen Ardley and Roger Stephens next to garden Lesley Rankin, Helen Ardley and Roger Stephens next to garden

A group of residents on a Battersea housing estate have been told their beloved community garden will be dug up by their "heartless" housing association.

Lesley Rankin, 50, from Dagnall Street, started planting vegetables in an unused plot of land in the Battersea Fields Estate last summer.

Both Mrs Rankin and her husband David, 52, have toiled since then producing all manner of fruits and veg including strawberries, carrots and courgettes and even bought a scarecrow to keep unwanted guests human and otherwise, away.

More importantly than aesthetics though, according to the green-fingered pair, the vegetable garden helped to educate youngsters about the importance of growing and eating locally-sourced food.

But on January 10, Mrs Rankin received a "nasty" letter from her housing association which stated residents were not allowed to "take over" communal areas.

The mother-of-five, who ha slive don the estate for 27 years, said: "It said we had 28 days to remove it or it would be 'removed'. But we're not taking up any grass just some unused soil.

"It's very disappointing because we bought it all ourselves, planted it all ourselves and tended to it all ourselves.

"They watched us build it up, and said nothing, and then once it was producing nice food they suddenly tell us we can't have it because of health and safety.

Mrs Rankin said she was inspired to start growing food after reading an article in Wandsworth Council's monthly magazine Brightside which encouraged people to start growing their own food.

The garden has even received the backing of numerous elderly neighbours and the nearby Chesterton Primary School whose children have benefitted from seeing a garden grow first hand.

Mrs Rankin said: "I'm not saying the garden is mine but the children loved it and it meant they were learning about growing food.

"The housing association don't really help to create a community but the garden is actually bringing people together."

The Battersea Fields Housing Association were contacted for two weeks, unsuccessfully, and by Tuesday this week the number provided to Mrs Rankin did not work at all.

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