Back to the garden at south London plants hub with global reach

A hub for green learning in south London which went global during the pandemic is welcoming visitors again, fuelled by a lockdown-inspired surge in interest.

The South London Botanical Institute, in Tulse Hill, switched its talks and workshops online during the coronavirus crisis, attracting viewers from as far afield as South Africa, India and the USA.

Now, it has reopened its doors for visitors to enjoy its botanical garden and resumed school visits to teach youngsters about plants and where their food comes from.

Its learning programme, Botany on your Plate, is funded by a £55,700 grant from the City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, which also gave the Institute a £5,000 emergency grant to help it through lockdown.

City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

“Like many of our grantees, the South London Botanical Institute has faced extraordinary challenges during the pandemic but found innovative and creative ways to adapt its services.

“It’s great that the Institute, while continuing its successful online workshops, is now once again able to welcome visitors to experience the health benefits of getting close to nature and learning about where their food comes from.”

During lockdown, the Institute delivered online talks on subjects including growing plants in pots or small balcony gardens, vegetables available at Brixton Market and using fruit and vegetables to dye clothes.

South London Botanical Institute Project Manager Caroline Pankhurst said:

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in interest during the pandemic, with lots more local people visiting us as they explore the area, and the online talks have meant we’ve been able to reach more people from a much wider area than would normally be the case.

“The Botany on your Plate project is about getting people engaged in where their food comes from and helping them realise how important plants are – not just for food but in all aspects of life.”

Any schools interested in a visit to the Institute for children to find out more about plants can get in touch via the website at www.slbi.org.uk

The botanical garden is now open to the public again for timed visits, which must be pre-booked via the website or by calling 020 8674 5787.

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study: ‘It was lovely to enjoy the sunshine in the garden’

Polly Tullberg, a teacher from Rosemead Preparatory School & Nursery, in Dulwich, brought her class to the South London Botanical Institute to learn more about ‘The Amazing World of Food Plants’.

She said: “We were so pleased to be able to take our class to visit the SLBI this term. The children and teachers loved it. The sessions were pitched accurately and were fun and informative.

“It was lovely to enjoy the sunshine in the garden and extra special because we could walk there. I’d recommend any teacher to take their class to the SLBI to learn more about plants.”

Picture captions

SLBI 1 – Quincy Johnson (front) planting in the vegetable bed with her father Jamie Johnson and volunteer Ellie Pritchard

SLBI 2 – Kiara Luna Arciniegas watering the plants

SLBI 3 – Charles and Frederick Searle making seed bombs

- City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile, dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge Houses Estates, founded in 1097 to maintain London Bridge, and Members of its Court of Common Council form the Bridge House Estates Board.

Bridge House Estates is responsible for maintaining Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars Bridges, and its charity funding arm City Bridge Trust – founded in 1995 – gives out over £25 million a year to good causes across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk