Our Story


Walworth Garden is a unique charity dedicated to changing lives through horticulture. Open to everyone, our award-winning gardens provide an oasis in the heart of Southwark. It’s a place people come to relax, learn and grow.

Through gardening education, training and therapy, we also provide opportunities and support for members of the local community, including vulnerable and disabled adults, those who’ve suffered traumatic experiences, and unemployed people looking to improve their professional skills and qualifications.

Our twin aims are to enable public access, understanding and enjoyment of horticulture, and to help people develop the skills and confidence they need to find their way back to work, independence and wellbeing.

In support of these goals, learning underpins everything we do. Whether people simply want to sit and enjoy their surroundings, take part in training programmes, or find out more about themselves through therapeutic activities, we give them the space, time and help they need.

 
 
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Our history

Located in the London borough of Southwark, Walworth garden was founded in 1987 when a group of local residents reclaimed a derelict street corner and created a community garden.

Over the years the garden has become a popular place for local people to visit, and a vital training hub for vulnerable, excluded and unemployed adults. The garden has also become an award-winning demonstration garden, while our Gardening Services team has developed into a reputable supplier for borough-wide gardening contracts.

The founding aim and ethos of the garden, to provide a place of tranquillity, growth and opportunity in this built-up urban area, remain firmly in place to this day. With ten fulltime employees and a team of regular volunteers, we are a registered Charity and Social Enterprise ranked in the Top 100 Social Enterprise list’. We are also a member of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.

 
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Our mission

Our mission and strategic aims guide our work and shape our future direction. They are:

Changing lives by delivering excellent learning and horticultural therapy in an award-winning garden that’s open to all.

We will help people to participate in, enjoy and learn about horticulture, and to gain new knowledge, skills and qualifications.

We will enable increased well-being, confidence and independence for people who are vulnerable, disabled and/or experiencing mild-to-moderate mental health issues.

 
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Our courses

Our courses are designed to reach three distinct groups: those not in education who want to re-engage with learning; those who want to gain specific professional skills and qualifications as way back into employment; and those who need therapeutic support to help address mental health issues or traumatic experiences.

 
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Training

As an accredited City and Guilds training centre, Walworth Garden runs NVQ training and apprenticeships in horticulture for unemployed people. Our aim is to build students’ confidence, motivation and self-esteem, and provide them with the skills and qualifications they need to re-enter the labour market. In addition, our Garden Services team manages around 20 gardening contracts across the borough. This programme of works enables our apprentices and students to get out and gain practical, hands-on experience in a professional contract environment, further enhancing their skills, knowledge and future employment prospects.

“I was picked for a three-month contract at Walworth Garden. It gave me an idea of what normal people do – you go to work, you get paid at the end of each month. This was all new to me; I’d never really had a proper job before.”-Marlon

“I work with the Garden Services team. We maintain private properties, local estates. I’ve learnt a lot of practical skills. I never knew how to mow a lawn or strim. I’ve gained plant knowledge, and I’ve learnt how to work as part of a team and develop good communication skills.”-Jack, Garden Apprentice

 
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Education

Our adult education programmes offer tuition in a range of disciplines, including gardening in small urban spaces, beekeeping and herbal medicine. Everyone is welcome and permanent Southwark residents are entitled to one free course a year, courtesy of Southwark Council who fund the programme. For those living outside the borough, each course costs £99 for 10 hours of tuition.

“There’s more informal learning, where anyone can turn up and in the context of a class or just by pottering around they can learn something about plants and gardening.”-Marc, Chairman of Trustees

 
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Therapy

Our Greenfingers group provides once-weekly therapeutic support for vulnerable and disabled adults, as well as people with mild to moderate mental health issues. Participants attend wellbeing courses, which involve carrying out garden maintenance, growing vegetables and producing plants for sale. They also work offsite on a local allotment and go on a number of trips throughout the year to other gardens, parks and open spaces.

“It’s all about being in touch with the soil, growing things and being able to harvest what you sow. On the Garden Farm, we also teach people how to cook using the vegetables that we grow to teach them about independent living.” -Tracy Browne, Operations Manager

 
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Our Garden

Well stocked with a variety of fruit and vegetables, ornamental flower beds, bees and rare specimen trees, Walworth Garden is the perfect place for people to escape the pressures and bustle of everyday life. We also have wildlife pond, a potting shed, two greenhouses and four beehives…

 
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Relax Enabling public access, understanding and enjoyment of horticulture

Learn Helping people develop the skills, qualifications and knowledge they need to re-engage with education and re-enter the job market

Grow Supporting people who’ve experienced personal trauma or mental health issues through therapeutic gardening activities