Once nothing more than a fenced off and overgrown area next to the railway, the Nomadic Community Gardens are certainly one of London’s most impressive, yet relatively unknown, attractions.
Located in Brick Lane, in the trendy district of Shoreditch, this hidden gem started as an experiment by a group of volunteers but soon grew to something bigger. The project’s original purpose was to fill the barren place with garden boxes where members of the nearby community could grow their produce, to bring allotments and the idea of growing your own food back into the heart of the city.
Today the gardens are part urban garden, part art exhibition, part event space and part home to small businesses. The space houses more than 100 allotment spaces, and it’s decorated with graffiti murals, sculptures, paintings, creative art pieces created from junk and furnishings built from scrap material and wooden pallets.
The community has even added makeshift theaters, bars, galleries, a couple of coffee shops and a few other booths the purpose of which is not immediately apparent, building a small village in its unique space. There’s also a big campfire, a boat, and, of course, a lot of vegetables at various levels of growth.
The gardens, much like everything in there, have grown into a community obsession that transformed an unattractive part of town into an artistic and truly original gathering place where locals and tourists alike can admire London’s urban creativity.
Wandering around the gardens make you feel like you’re in a different world entirely and, for brief moments, you completely forget you’re in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities.
The best way to get there is by walking. They can be accessed via Pedley Street just off Brick Lane, head to Allen Gardens and go underneath the railway bridge to find the garden gates. If you’re coming from Cheshire Street, cross the footbridge and pass through the door at the bottom of the steps.
The gardens are closed after sundown and on Mondays.
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