Environment & Blue-Green Spaces

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Ripple Reserve Reach Out 

Residents have been working together over the last 3 months to revive a movement long-forgotten  back to life. The Ripple Nature Reserve once stood, open to the public, with two main entrances on  Renwick Road and Marine Drive. Located behind the Barking Reach Power Station, today, it remains  closed. The site has a vast history in Thames View, Barking and Dagenham, and was once a place  where local industry deposited pulverised fuel ash. It’s even rumoured there was a farm located on site.  Residents were able to spot the smallest British Carnivore back then – Weasels and the elusive  woodpecker bird. They may very well still be there. History moved on and the land was deemed safe  for human use and became an accessible nature reserve with the site boasting gorgeous silver-trunk  birch trees, a pond and wildflower meadow blooming with colourful flowers each year in summer  bloom. Unfortunately, the site was closed a number of years ago, leaving nature to leave the Reserve untouched and wild. 

Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP), Barking and Dagenham CouncilRoding Rubbish and a  group of volunteers have been working behind the scenes to open the Ripple Nature Reserve to the general public. The aim is to make it safe once again for young children and the more mature,  responsible adults and dog-walkers alike. Residents are taking part in a number of activities such as  litter picking, planning and crafting so that we can once again bring the Ripple Nature Reserve back  to life and open for all. Consider this the Ripple Reserve Reach Out. If you would like to be  involved please contact us below. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas and for our joint contribution in opening the Reserve in full next year! More coming soon. 

Vishal Narayan, Local Resident on behalf of the Ripple Nature Reserve Resident Group

Email: Nia@TWCP.org.uk to get involved.

Instagram: @Ripplenaturereserve

Join us to celebrate GROW

Throughout August, we partnered with Creative Barking and Dagenham to provide creative workshops and activities for residents in Thames View and Barking Riverside. GROW transformed local spaces and allowed residents to connect, learn a new skill and just relax with family and friends!

Taking place Saturdays – Tuesdays across the Sue Bramley CentreRivergate Centre and our very own Barking Food Forest; the activities have ranged from weaving, sewing, textiles and craft, gardening, poetry and drawing. Residents have also enjoyed live music and catering from local producers!

Following our final workshops will be a GROW celebration event on Saturday 3 September at Barking Food Forest.

JOIN US: 12pm to 4pm

Barking Food Forest, Fielders Crescent, Barking, IG11 0FU

Free Climate Action Programme for Young People

As the impacts of climate change become increasingly severe, today’s young people have an all-important task. In Barking and Dagenham, the British Red Cross is partnering with Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP) and University College London (UCL) Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis to offer young people an interactive games-based curriculum (Y-Adapt) to help them better understand climate change and learn how to adapt to the changing climate in their community through their own action project.

The programme kicks off with three full days of interactive sessions filled with workshops, games, fun activities, and challenges from Monday 25th July to Wednesday 27th July. The participants will learn about what climate change is, its impacts around the world and how it may affect them and their community. At the end of these three days, they will work together in groups to make action plans to adapt their communities to climate change. They will then have five weeks to deliver their action project, helping to make their communities more climate-resilient. There will be weekly zoom check-ins for the young people to stay in touch with their group and receive any additional support.

Following the July sessions, there will be one final in-person follow-up session on Wednesday 31st August between 15:00-17:00 for the young people to share their projects and celebrate. Each group will share the outcomes of their projects and capture these in ‘adaptation cards’ that will be used to inspire other young people around the world to take their own action. 

All in-person sessions will take place locally at Participatory City Foundation, 47 Thames Road, Barking, IG11 0HQ with one session including a site visit to the Ripple Greenway, a 4-minute walk away. All facilitators are DBS checked and cleared and there will be a first aid trained facilitator. A free lunch from local caterers will be provided for all young people participating.

By taking part in the programme pupils will be awarded with a nationally recognised British Red Cross certificate as part of the ‘RED’ volunteering award. They will receive the first level which is ‘R’ and if they would like to volunteer further, they can work towards the next levels in the future.

The sessions are open to young people in Barking and Dagenham aged 13-25.

There are a maximum of 30 spaces and the deadline to sign up is Friday 15th July.

You can register your participation online here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/y-adapt-tickets-362898337697.

For any questions about the programme please contact Ghutai Khuram at ghutaikhuram@redcross.org.uk at 07738808811.

Young People Meet with Cllr Achilleos to Campaign for Food Waste Collection

Young people have an excellent way of speaking the truth, even the uncomfortable ones. This is never truer than when it comes to issues of looking after our planet and taking seriously the damage our current lifestyles are having. The local newspaper, the RiverView, featured an interview with Leo about food waste and the lack of it in Barking & Dagenham. Leo wanted to do something about it.  

Since then, it has been exciting to link up with the Young Citizen Action Group at Riverside School and with others at Leo’s own school, George Carey Primary School to turn words into action. The young people met Councillor Achilleos, who is the Green Champion in the Borough to take this further.

Erik was one of the young people leading the discussion. He shared:

“After hearing about Leo’s food waste campaign, I felt inspired and encouraged to join his project in order to make a change. During the meeting with Cllr Achilleos we asked him if we could have a food waste collection system across the entire borough and have food waste bins and biodegradable bags provided for free.”

Everyone was pleased to hear that food waste is already high on the council agenda, and they are exploring how to implement this for residents next year. Leo reflected after the meeting, “I felt nervous in the beginning, but the Councillor was kind and very polite, when he said they would do it in 2023 it felt really good and I was excited!”

Councillor Achilleos shared: “It was great to meet with young people from Riverside and George Carey Schools to discuss food waste recently. Their initiative, enthusiasm, and engagement with the issue filled me with hope that we can overcome the challenges, to deliver a food waste service and a carbon neutral future for Barking and Dagenham. Young voices have proved particularly powerful in the climate debate, and I will be working hard to ensure those voices are heard as we work towards our goal of net-zero by 2030.”

So, progress is being made, and that leaves the question of what next? It is great that the council is hoping to bring food recycling to every home next year, for free. The young people continue to watch this to make sure it happens. There is a role each of us can play too, not only to recycle our food waste when the bins arrive, but we can reduce our own food waste today. These young people are committed to keep working for a greener future and working with our schools to do that. Did you know, 30% of the food we buy goes in the bin? We can change that by only buying what we need, saving not only waste but money too – what’s not to love!

Residents join forces to bring back Ripple Nature Reserve

A resident-led group has formed to help the council bring the Ripple Nature Reserve back into use after many years of the site being inaccessible to the public. The precise details and dates are being worked out but already residents have done a successful litter pick drawing on the energy and expertise of the Roding Rubbish Group and a steering group is in place to plan, fundraise and support the return of a well-managed and much needed environmental and community resource returning to its former glory. 

During the pandemic, Londoners took to their parks and green spaces as never before. Assets that had always been there but perhaps not always fully accessed or appreciated helped us connect with one another, safeguarded our wellbeing, and put us in touch with our environment. The Ripple Nature Reserve covers over 10 hectares spanning from the warehouses and industry of Thames Road, the HGV thoroughfare that is River Road/Renwick Road and the edges of the earliest phases of Barking Riverside. Older residents recall taking their children to enjoy the birch trees, open glades, scrub and grassland, with some veterans of Thames Ward remembering a time when the London Wildlife Trust maintained the site. The thrill of encountering this magical space has been denied newer residents, as the entrances have been locked for years. When children at Riverside School’s Young Citizen Action Group did a session on protecting the environment, the site was visible from the school window but most didn’t know it even existed, and even now they can only view it from afar.

The site adapted to the industrial legacy of the area including the dumping of pulverised fuel ash from a nearby Power Station closed in the 1980s resulting in highly alkaline soil in contrast to more acidic soil found across much of London. This has given rise to a range of plant species that would not grow elsewhere including orchids, grey club rush and wild basil as well as a haven for goldfinch, rabbits and endangered species of invertebrates. 

Barking and Dagenham is blessed with many parks and open areas and yet with all the development afoot – just play spot the crane next time you are in Barking or on Riverside – green spaces and space in general is under increasing pressure. Over one hundred thousand people are set to be added to the population of the borough within the space of a few decades, many of whom will make their home south of the A13. For those living here and now and for those who will come in future years, as Riverside completes its 10,800 homes target in 2037, never was the solace of a Nature Reserve more needed.  

For more details and to get involved contact nia@twcp.org.uk


Barking Food Forest: Growing Community and A New Year!

The Barking Food Forest Project has got off to a flying start. After several hurdles including underground scans, lockdowns and more, we finally got to start on site gardening sessions in August of 2021. The community got the ball rolling, preparing the site and building wooden planters to grow vegetables.

By September, school was back in and students of all ages began to get involved with weekly gardening sessions. All the way from toddlers at LEYF Nursery to secondary students at Riverside School, the younger members of the community jumped head first into all the gardening tasks.

There’s been a lovely symbiotic process, where the different groups attending the garden at separate times have been working towards a shared vision. A great example was our first batch of veggie planters. The community (residents) built the planters and got them filled up with compost, ready for planting. Then the nursery and primary groups planted them up with veggies. The secondary students and the community groups helped later on with weeding and mulching, creating a cosy blanket of grass cuttings – to help keep the young plants insulated and hydrated over winter. 

Saturdays have been lots of fun and an opportunity for all the different groups to work on the garden together. We have a few junior gardeners who come with their nursery/primary group on a Tuesday and then come with their family on a Saturday.

It’s a been a whirlwind of a first season. Although, we started towards the end of the growing season, we’ve got a lot done.

Resident and student gardeners have planted a hedgerow to attract birds and wildlife and created a pond – which is happily getting filled by the winter rains. We also planted many shrubs, flowers and young trees, which are all creating a real sense of the Food Forest that we have envisioned together. 

Barking Food Forest has had a couple of great events this year. Both the Pumpkin Party and the Diwali celebration had a great turn out. Residents and also neighbours from further afield in Barking and Dagenham got together to garden, celebrate and meet other like minded folks from the area. The kids had a blast playing games and doing seasonal arts and crafts. Some of the residents even brought delicious home made food to share with the community. Nothing brings people together like enjoying tasty food, in future we look forward to sharing the goods that we grow together as well.

In November, we celebrated a major win: the Mayor of London Climate Kick Start awarded Barking Food Forest and Riverside Bridge School £10K to create a Rainwater Harvesting System. The Bridge School Kitchen and Barking Food Forest, will each have a system to capture rainwater and use it for watering the garden. What’s more, it will include a solar powered automatic watering system, so that the school plants thrive even during the long hot summer holidays. 

Students from Riverside Bridge and Riverside Secondary school also got to meet Mayor Sadiq Khan at an exciting award ceremony in central London. They were inspired to hear of some of the other projects by schools in London and the Mayor’s ambitious goals for nature and wellbeing in the capital. Best of all the students were recognised and celebrated for being champions of positive environmental change that will benefit all London’s residents, wildlife and ecology.

Barking Food Forest is currently taking a break for the winter and will reopen in March for our first full growing year!

We’re also using the winter break to move forward with planning applications for our proposed structure and other plans. The next year should see some major changes to the garden site, so watch this space! Better yet come along and get involved. 

Community Gardening sessions are open to all and run on Tuesdays & Saturdays from 10am-12pm. The garden will reopen in mid-March.

Nikhil Rathore

Permaculture Designer & TWCP Steering Group Member


Follow us on social media: 

IG: @barkingfoodforest

FB: Barking Food Forest

Barking Food Forest and Riverside Bridge School receive £10K from GLA Climate Kick-Start Fund!

Barking Food Forest and Riverside Bridge School, supported by Thames Ward Community Project, have been successful in a joint application to the London Schools’ Climate Kick-Start Green Schools Grant, and will receive £10K for the projects! Out of all the schools in London that applied, we were 1 of only 5 that were successful. 

The proposal was for funding to create solar-powered rain-fed watering and electricity systems for both sites that will be fully self-sustainable and renewable, supported by a qualified permaculture teacher and electrical system consultants. 

The funding will purchase:

  • A durable greenhouse for the Riverside Bridge School edible garden, to replace their previous one that had blown away.
  • A performance stage for BFF with an integrated rainwater harvesting roof , under-deck water storage and solar powered irrigation system.
  • Solar panels for both sites.
  • A portable solar electric system for BFF.
  • Specialist consultations.
  • Teaching hours from a permaculture specialist.

Student and wider community engagement

The project will hugely increase the students’ exposure to local wildlife, climate and pollution issues, engaging them in regular outdoor activities. Students will see, hear, smell and feel the natural world and their own roles as custodians and guardians.The irrigation and renewable energy systems will enable the projects to continue food growing activities through the seasons and be a working example of regenerative resource management, modelling how we can aim to not only be neutral in our environmental impact, but actually climate positive.BFF weekly sessions have already begun and students have been bringing siblings and parents along to participate. The central and highly visible location of the project aids in the project acting as a bridge between the student body and the wider local community.Students will gain exposure to local, organic fruit and vegetable production: renewable electrical energy and the shared experience of working together with others to create a long term asset for the local area. As a result it will improve students’ sense of agency and give them a skill set they can take forward in their lives as young adults of the future.

A Month of Barking Food Forest

Here at TWCP, we pride ourselves on being genuinely resident-led, and there’s nothing that expresses this in its truest form more than the Barking Food Forest. From the beginning, the site itself was secured through the hard campaigning work and drive of the Young Citizen Action Group at Riverside School, who after 2 years managed to take possession of the keys for the community garden site from BRL. Community effort continued with successful grant applications supported by TWCP. Fast forward to our co-design sessions, which were a hit with young people and residents, the long awaited GPR scan of the grounds, and we were finally ready to start in-person sessions at the end of August. 

Where are we now?

It’s been a journey filled with collaborating, learning, and of course hard work. We’ve been steadily building momentum through various meetings with key stakeholders, co-design sessions with local people, collaborating with local organisations, such as Every One Every Day and taking others on that journey with us through our online channels. To note some key moments:  

  • JM2 Group have supported in maintaining the site. 
  • Going Picking have provided much needed learning in terms developing this project through meetings and a tour of their own site. 
  • Make:Good architecture and design studio has been working with Riverside students and the BFF team to design a Pavilion that will be built on the site. 

We are all grateful for the support we’ve received but our greatest and most important connection has been with the residents. Over the month, we have been able to engage with residents of all ages, from all walks of life, seeking a space where they can learn and be free in. Over the past 5 weeks we have enjoyed sessions building planters, building the compost area, planting bulbs, watering, digging and socialising! 

It's been a real whirlwind start to Barking Food Forest. It's encouraging to see lots of enthusiasm & hard work from the community so early in the project. Organisations have given invaluable support which really helps at this challenging start up phase. We've had a lot of fun & got a lot done, I'm really looking forward to seeing where we will be this time next year!

TWCP x Barking Food Forest at The Wilds Launch

Over 400 local residents attended the Wilds at Barking Riverside Launch on Saturday 24th July! It was encouraging to have staff members and trustees from Thames Ward Community Project attend throughout the day, to support our talks on the Barking Food Forest Project, and also an overview about the work of TWCP. We were also thrilled to get residents involved in our mapping exercise, which saw them write down issues and ideas for solutions surrounding health and wellbeing.

Barking Food Forest Talk

Nikhil Rathore, Barking Food Forest Team Lead, kicked off the launch festival with a talk about the anticipated project and updated local residents on the upcoming workshop. 

The Barking Food Forest is a local community gardening project, based in Barking Riverside. It will be a space for residents of all ages to grow, learn and socialise together, whilst supporting the biodiversity of the local area.

He highlighted the key milestones of the story so far, including: the YCAG campaign for the site, co-design sessions with students and local residents, the strimming and ground penetrating radar scan of the grounds, and the Pavilion Project – with students from Riverside School working in partnership with Make:Good design firm to design a pavilion that will go on the site.

Lastly, the team were excited to share the news of our upcoming Planter Build Workshop:

Date: Saturday 7th August 2021

Time: 12pm to 2pm

Location: at the Wilds Ecology Centre

Talking Thames - Thames Ward Community Project Talk

Jamie Kesten, Rahela Begum, and Zainab Jalloh were supported by Emmanuel Oreyeni who shared on his experience with TWCP and how he has developed his art career. It was encouraging to see so many local residents attend the talk and share on their own passions surrounding the arts, health and skills.

What is The Wilds Ecology Centre?

The Wilds is an amazing ecology centre and community space for the public in Barking Riverside! It is a space for growing, playing, eating and sharing. A place for co-working and developing new skills. The Wilds is designed and managed by Barking Riverside Limited (BRL), and includes a coffee shop called GROUNDED, brought to you by Coffee:Works, a new co-operative business created by Every One Every Day and a group of local people. The space also hosts workshops, exhibitions, and special events. 

You can also co-work from The Wilds, hire the space for making, growing, and learning, and take advantage of other membership offers.

Find out more: https://thewildsbarkingriverside.london/whats-happening/

Barking Food Forest Update: Vegetation Cut, and GPR Scan Complete!

Resident steering group member; Nikhil Rathore, was able to prepare the grounds for a ground penetrating radar scan to be completed, with support from TWCP, a local resident and Thames View Community Garden.

The vegetation was cut back by the team, and next steps will include building raised beds on the site. The team hopes for Barking Food Forest to be open to residents in due time.

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