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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

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.

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

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