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Beautify Balham - creating local partnerships

June 2021


Established by Jean Millar and enthusiastically supported by local residents, schools, businesses and Wandsworth, Beautify Balham encourages everyone to be responsible for their shared outdoor environment through tree planting, gardening and litter picking - all to make Balham more beautiful! At the 2021 Balham in Bloom Festival of locally grown flowers, Think Outside helped set up the Festival and ran a stall leading free seed planting workshops for the local community.  The afternoon ended with the Mayor awarding prizes for residential and communal gardens. To be repeated in 2022!  

Gardening with Nightingale House residents

January 2020 - September 2021


We started working with the elderly at Nightingale House in January 2020, getting to know some of the residents and staff in person before the first lockdown in March. We ran face-face workshops with residents some of whom suffered from severe dementia but were able to remember their experiences with planting and gardening from long ago. It was amazing to see how some of them have a great knowledge of seeds and plants. We ran touching and smelling sessions, planted seeds in containers and flowers and vegetables in mobile planters on the home's patio - a continuation of our Mobile Roots project.

When the first lockdown started we didn't want to stop working with the residents and  continued sessions online from our garden at home, planting bulbs, herbs and colourful summer blooms with the residents - dropping off all the "ingredients" at the reception before our online sessions.

Online cooking classes

1st series: October 2020 - June 2021

2nd series: October 2021 - present (back by popular demand!)


Another online course run by Beata, this time in partnership with Groundwork. This is an 8 week course (3 rounds) for Westminster residents. All meals are cooked together with participants, allowing time to complete each dish during session. This way we encourage participants to try to cook recipes which they would not have tried on their own. Everyone is very enthusiastic and always waiting for Tuesday mornings to cook together. There is also a theory part to this course including learning about balanced diet, nutrition and food allergens.

Foodival with Transition Town Tooting

September 2018, September 2019


We participated in the Tooting Foodival for 2 years in the row. It is such a great way to work with Transition Town Tooting and promote heathy life styles in Wandsworth communities and schools. 

This year we planted house plants in reused Heinz Beans tins. We also added a little gardener to every mini planter. See if you can spot it in the picture!

Mobile Roots - 575

Spring and Summer 2019


We were approached in Spring 2019 by the National Trust and Doddington and Rollo Community Centre in Battersea to run planting sessions (funded by the National Trust) in the estate's rooftop garden for local residents.  These were preceded by visits by participants to the National Trust's beautiful property at 575 Wandsworth Road, home of the late Kenyan poet and civil servant, Khadambi Aslache.   All the planting was done in mobile "Vegtrug" planters (used extensively by think outside), which are ideal for the elderly and very young alike.   Our plants came from the Hampton Court Flower Show!

After the workshops we displayed the planters at Battersea Arts Centre for the summer - an ideal accompaniment for outdoor performances and a perfect opportunity for community engagement.  They now being managed at a youth centre in Loughborough Junction.

Mobile Roots - Pimlico

September 2018 - December 2020


Using the same concept of mobile planters for the elderly, this has been by some way think outside's largest non-school project. Funded  

by the Pimlico Million, we have been running gardening and cooking workshops across Churchill Gardens Estate for local residents (many of them elderly); we have added Vegtrugs to outdoor spaces at St Gabriel's Primary School and throughout the estate; run classes at both the school and the local youth club; and helped residents re-develop their communal growing spaces.  We hope to carry this work for the foreseeable future.

Mobile Roots - Balham 

July -September 2019


Funded by an Our Space grant from Groundwork, we led the first stage of the re-development of a previously under-used and largely derelict site at the rear of Endlesham Hall (the "Kalos Centre") in Balham, owned by Balham Community Church. Our objective is always the same: to provide a centre for the wider community in a companionable setting for all local residents in which they can learn to garden (using both mobile and fixed planters) and to make soups with what they grow.

Share Nursery

Spring 2018


Share Nursery, run at Springfield Hospital by the charity Share Community, is a perfect example of the benefits of gardening for those with mental disabilities.   Students are trained in gardening and receive accreditation certificates to help rehabilitate them into, and find work, in the outside world in future.  think outside worked once a week on a voluntary basis for a year until recently with Share professionals to help run classes (and provide home-made cakes for students and staff!)

Anchor Church - Pollinator Paths

Spring 2018


We completed a short project at the Anchor Church in Earlsfield, focusing on helping the Church spruce up its outdoor space. We ran a number of workshops, some of them linked to our Pollinator Paths project. All the participants enjoyed the planting session as well as the improved look of their entrance courtyard.

London Zoo

Spring 2018 - Spring 2019


...and finally!!   Working in conjunction with Groundwork we have led volunteer sessions to help the Zoo gardening team tidy up, plant and teach the volunteers more about planting and the environment generally. So a busy year!

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