Sydenham Garden’s summer festival at our market garden site on De Frene Road gets bigger and better every year, and 2019 was no exception. Thanks to months of planning by our dedicated team, and an overwhelming amount of goodwill and support on the day from our co-workers and volunteer groups, the day was a brilliant success.
We were over the moon to welcome so many festival goers on 17th August – a diverse crowd, made up of local smiling faces, out to enjoy a sunny summer’s day in a beautiful green oasis. We counted over 650 through the gates, with every ticket sold helping us to run our projects at Sydenham Garden.
There was something to suit everyone, with activities scattered all around the site. If you were lucky enough to be there on the day, you might have stumbled across spiced chutney being prepared from scratch on an open fire, or perhaps you had a go at blowing giant bubbles, making willow crowns, or spinning wool on a traditional wheel under the apple trees. Our art zone was a real highlight and many people left wearing a beautiful badge they’d designed and made on the stall,or contributed to our giant nature weaving. There was a stampede to the bee stall when the bell rang, as that signaled the sale of our much-coveted De Frene honey – local and utterly delicious. It sold out in minutes. Luckily with so many local businesses selling their wares at stalls around the garden, there was plenty of opportunity for a bit of retail therapy for those that missed out.
Thanks to our Growing Lives team, based at the De Frene Road site, the flowers were at their peak on the day – no decoration needed when the blooms are this stunning. One of the most popular activities was our cut flower workshop, run by one of our brilliant volunteers. It was so lovely to see the groups selecting their favourite flowers to cut from the garden, then transforming them into gorgeous (ethically grown) posies to take home.
Food this year was a real highlight – with hundreds of cakes devoured, along with some very special, nutritious dishes from the kitchen team. The vegan yellow curry was well reviewed by everyone who enjoyed a bowl.
And we couldn’t talk about Defrenefest without a mention of the music – what an eclectic mix of talented musicians! Some absolute classics from the Brockley Ukulele Group had us all tapping our feet and with beautiful melodies from our very own Jess (Carmody) and the talented Bity Booker, with some upbeat tunes from the Bouncer Band, Kaylum, Room 306, and MLC, we were all full of the joys of great live music. Who needs Glastonbury when you’ve got the Green Tomatoes stage on your doorstep?
Defrenefest is of course an opportunity for Sydenham Garden to raise much needed funds to continue our work – supporting adults in Lewisham with mental ill health to live well. It is also the perfect environment for our co-workers to volunteer in a safe and supportive environment. We know that working at this event gives those involved a huge sense of pride and belonging and can be a much needed confidence boost – and we wouldn’t be able to run the festival without them. Our co-workers set up the site, cooked up a storm, sold plants, welcomed visitors on the door, helped create art and much more.
This special little festival gives us a chance to connect with the community, to share our beautiful site and to celebrate the garden and lives we have grown together.
Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a joyous occasion. Roll on 2020.