The Calthorpe Community Garden is located a 10-minute walk from Kings Cross in London and has been open for over 40 years. This garden is open to all and is run with the help of staff, volunteers, and the local community. People can participate in the maintenance of the organic gardens filled with various plants, can come have lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays, and can partake in various activities hosted, from yoga to embroidery sessions, which have been set up to increase the community’s well-being after the pandemic.

After staying at the community garden for just two hours, I can say that the entire community were extremely welcoming to me, and the gardens were very well maintained. I loved the environment I was in, and I hope to volunteer there this coming year.

Barbara Leger is a UCL volunteer who is in her final year as a Geography student. Volunteering at Calthorpe Community Garden since March of 2023, Barbara shared her experience with us. Since starting, she has been coming weekly and oversees several tasks like planting, identifying plants, taking care of the compost, preparing meals for the community using the produce, and helping with different activities happening at this community garden.

What skills have you gained whilst volunteering?

So many! Firstly, in the garden, I’ve learnt to recognize various plants, sort through compost, and participated in the maintenance of the garden. And then there are skills I have gained which are more people-oriented. So, making myself useful, cooking large batches of food for around 20 people at times, using my voice to communicate with staff and members of the community, and working as a team.

What has been a highlight of volunteering at this garden?

A highlight is definitely the staff members and volunteers. Everyone is extremely welcoming, checking up on you each week – you feel extremely welcome right away. Another highlight has been cooking using the produce from the garden to feed about 20 people, it is very fun. Finally, it is the small interactions with members of the community that make my day – whether this is seeing some of the same faces and getting to know them better or meeting new people and welcoming them to the garden.

What is a challenge you have had to overcome?

The challenges I have faced, I would say, are more personal challenges. So, at times I don’t feel that I am fit for a certain task asked of me, or having the confidence in making decisions, or not taking more initiative at times, when taking initiative is more than welcome here!

How did you find out about this volunteering role?

I went to the Volunteering Fair at the North and South Cloisters of UCL back in January, and saw a stand for Calthorpe Community Garden. Their activity was very interactive, as they asked us to see how many plants we could name from images. There was a lot of flexibility for the role and the staff were extremely welcoming

Thank you, Barbara, for sharing her experience of volunteering at Calthorpe Community Garden. If you would like to find out more about opportunities to volunteer, check here!