We are the Penge Green Gym,
also known as the
Friends of Winsford Gardens.
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Why don’t you come and join us for a free green “workout” and gardening experience in Winsford Gardens, the home of the Penge Green Gym?
Penge Green Gym meets in
Winsford Gardens every Wednesday
throughout the year from 11am – 2pm.
Penge Green Gym are a group of local volunteers who run a weekly practical gardening session in Winsford Gardens, a Green Flag Award Winning park in Penge, South East London with the aim of improving both the local environment and the health of volunteers just like you.
The health benefits of Gardening and Volunteering are now recognised and Penge Green Gym combines both. Our sessions are open to all and we hope we have something to offer everyone; and there are at least three good reasons for you to join us:
1. Help improve your local area
You can help us to continue to improve these once neglected gardens. As well as the ongoing maintenance of the flower beds and grassy areas, we have built a new children’s play area and a ring of natural wooden seating. With your help we can continue to add improvements for all the local residents to enjoy. Parks and Open Spaces like Winsford Gardens are vital to local communities and need your protection or they will be lost. Use them or lose them!
2. Help the environment
Environmental green issues play an important part in how we manage the gardens here in Penge. We have already created two wild flower meadows, built insect and stag beetle hotels, dead hedges. In 2014 we converted a disused pond into a Bog Garden. We have made our own compost bins so that we don’t have to use Peat based composts and we collect rainwater to reduce the amount of water we use. We try to act sustainably in other decisions that we take.
3. Help yourself
Penge Green Gym provides an opportunity for you to get outdoors, meet new people and do something healthy. We have a range of activities to suit all levels of fitness, ranging from gentle weeding and pruning, right through to more energetic tasks such as digging and constructing new features in the gardens. Volunteers are encouraged to participate at their own pace; what you choose to do is entirely up to you.
So, how does a Green Gym session work?
We begin each session promptly at 11am with gentle warm up exercises from one of our Leaders. This is followed by a talk about the safe use of tools.
The planned tasks for that week are discussed and volunteers are free to choose which of these tasks they would like to participate in. If none of those tasks appeal, there is always other work needed to be done in the garden.
Frequently Asked Questions
about Penge Green Gym
1. So, how can I get involved?
If you would like to join Penge Green Gym…
…then we would also love to meet you too!
Just come along at about 10.50 am on any Wednesday to the address shown below. We are there in Winsford Gardens almost every Wednesday (except for Bank Holidays.)
Do arrive early so we can have you complete a short health questionnaire before our Warm Up and Tool Talk.
2. Do I need any equipment – safety boots or gloves?
Strong old shoes or boots will suffice. Unless we are digging holes or building something then you won’t need safety boots. Trainers are not recommended and Sandals are not suitable.
Bring warm clothing if it is cold and waterproofs if wet weather is forecast. In the winter it can be quite exposed and we have nowhere to shelter. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. We do provide gloves for you.
In Summer, please bring a hat. We will provide sun lotion and water to drink.
It is recommended that you should check that your Tetanus inoculations are up to date when doing any gardening.
3. Will I need to bring food with me (if you have a break)?
We have a short break at approximately 12.30 for tea or coffee, bananas and biscuits (all provided free to volunteers.) Some people do bring along sandwiches, but most do not bother.
4. Is there a toilet?
Unfortunately we don’t have toilet facilities on the site. A composting toilet for volunteers is a project we currently have in discussion but which was held up because of a planning dispute over the garden boundaries. We do have arrangements to have access to toilet facilities that are about 200 yards away.
5. How can I get one of your t-shirts?
A t-shirt is given after you attend your fourth session (while stocks last.) Unfortunately, they are not for sale! It is a kind of reward for service. So, you will need to earn it!
6. Do I have to come every week? Is there a minimum commitment?
No, whether you join us every week is entirely up to you. There are no contracts to sign at our Gym! Come along initially and see if it is for you or not, and if you can’t come every week, just turn up when you can. You’ll be welcome whenever you can make it!
7. Can I come along later on?
We do have to insist that you turn up at the beginning even if you cannot work for a whole session and wish to leave early. The Warm Up exercises and the Tool Talk given at the start for safety are important to prevent injuries. It is also inconvenient for the leaders to have to give task instructions several times, and it also helps with our planning of tasks for the day if we know the exact numbers who will be attending. Please do turn up on time!
8. Can I come on a different day? Can I work longer hours?
We have no plans at present to work on any additional days. The Green Gym format of three hours work is one that suits the needs of many people. There are opportunities to work on Fridays with Bromley Green Gym or on other days with other London Green Gyms. Please note that Whitehall Green Gym in Bromley Common has now closed.
There are opportunities to work for whole full days with Croydon TCV or with other similar local gardening and conservation organisations such as the Crystal Palace Transition Town, the London Wildlife Trust, the Ravensbourne River Bankside Management, the Canal and Rivers Trust, with ZSL (the Zoological Society of London) as a Citizen Scientist, or with the National Trust or Thames 21 or their 3Rivers CleanUp. We can provide you with further details of these other local groups.
In addition, most parks and open spaces in the London Borough of Bromley have Friends groups who are often active in practical tasks at weekends. You can find existing groups through the Bromley Friends Forum. If you are interested in starting a new Friends group then you can register your interest at Bromley Friends of Parks where you can also volunteer as a Street or Tree Friend.
We would ask any budding Guerrilla Gardeners to please refrain from working in Winsford Gardens as we have a carefully developed programme of works planned for the park in conjunction with the landowners, LB of Bromley, and their contractors, id verde.
9. Don’t you have any Outdoor Gym equipment?
Sorry, but we are just not that kind of Gym. We are strictly shovels, forks, mattocks and dirt. Our equipment is floral gloves and a rake! You will not find any weights, treadmills, strength machines, or sanitizing wipes. However, we do have work in Spades! We dig the earth, grow our own and shed the pounds. We passionately believe in the combined health benefits of gardening and exercising outdoors in the fresh air.
If you are looking for Outdoor Gym equipment then there is some from the TGO Britain range for you to use free in the nearby Betts Park on Anerley Road. You can read more about that at Bromley Outdoor Gyms
10. All this sounds great but you are much too far away for me to travel?
There are plenty of other Green Gyms all over the UK. The Green Gym concept was the idea of Dr William Bird and the first Green Gym was piloted in 1997 in Sonning Common. Green Gym is a registered trade mark of The Conservation Volunteers (TCV.) Here is a list of TCV maintained Green Gyms. Here is a list of other TCV Community Groups including Community Green Gyms. If there isn’t a Green Gym in your location, why not start your own?
If you have any other questions about volunteering for our sessions at Penge Green Gym then please do not hesitate to contact us; you can send us an email here
Where to find usWinsford Gardens Garden Road Penge London SE20 7RN
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