The Calthorpe Project: A case of community spirit, togetherness and strength

By So Jung Rim from SIX | Unusual Suspects Festival 2017

In the bustling cityscape of King’s Cross, there is a hidden green space, which provides comfort and rest to anyone who drops by.

30 years ago, when a large office development plans threatened the social fabric of the neighbourhood, local residents ran a campaign, petitions and lobbied councillors to save the site. The residents’ efforts led to Camden Council allocating money to convert the space into The Calthorpe Project, a community garden and centre for people who live, work or study in Camden and surrounding areas.

The Calthorpe Project aims to improve physical and emotional wellbeing of residents through horticultural volunteering and training programmes, sustainable food growing groups, children’s activities, sports activities and community classes and activities.

When SIX moved to King’s Cross area few months ago, we were excited to find this hidden treasure in our area. We started having our team meetings in the garden and had lunch at the café. The Calthorpe garden became our second home.

Through Mila from the Calthorpe café, we learned about Calthorpe Project’s sustainable food growing practice, incorporating a closed loop food cycle — how the vegetables are produced from the gardens for the vegetarian cafe and how the food waste is processed in the waste recycling facility. We also found out that there is a regular elderly gardening group (mostly from Spanish speaking countries) that meet every Friday. These regular meet-ups improved the wellbeing and happiness of elderly group, providing them opportunities to socialise, grow food and share a meal together. The Calthorpe Project also offers space for Refugee Connection, an organisation that connects Londoners all over the city with people seeking asylum and those with refugee status, to find friendship.

These special relationships and stories were exactly the themes that we wanted to focus on during our fourth Unusual Suspects Festival in London this year and we were honoured to have The Calthorpe Project join as our Festival partner.

In the above video, some of our friends at The Calthorpe Project share what this local community space means to them.

Every city, every neighbourhood deserves a space such as Calthorpe Project!