Image: Owen Llewellyn
In 1957, Brixton Windmill and the surrounding land were bought by London County Council. The area was later laid out as a public garden.
As well as the windmill, Windmill Gardens is home to a children’s playground and a wonderful mural depicting the past, present and future of Brixton Windmill. Unfortunately, the One O'Clock Club closed in June 2011 owing to cuts by Lambeth Council, but a new 'stay and play' facility for pre-school children is due to open in summer 2013.
The Friends of Windmill Gardens hold several annual events in the park, including the Summer Festival, Art in the Park, and a five-a-side football tournament.
Image: Nick Weedon
In spring 2011 the Friends of Windmill Gardens converted a disused sandpit on the eastern border of Windmill Gardens into a medicinal herb garden. This bed is now flourishing and attracting butterflies and bees. Many medicinal herbs are aromatic and have very pretty flowers, so the herb bed has greatly improved this area of the park.
The bed contains four types of medicinal herb: to help the skin, respiration, digestion and genito-reproductive conditions. Many have culinary uses as well and will attract butterflies and bees.
We are very grateful to Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses and the South London Botanical Institute for their donations and help in kind and to Lambeth Council who enabled this project and funded us with a Green Champions grant.
Image: Jean Kerrigan
In March 2013 the Friends of Windmill Gardens planted 31 square metres of spring wheat near the entrance to the park. The patch includes three types of heritage wheat and a small area of modern (shorter) wheat. This year's planting followed two previous years successfully growing wheat beside the windmill.
In April 2011 the Friends planted 30 square metres of heritage wheat and barley on the ridge behind the newly restored windmill. Because wheat cannot be grown in the same place year-on-year that area was re-planted with meadow flowers and hops in to create another butterfly friendly area in the park. The wheat bed was moved to the south-west side of the windmil. We harvested the wheat in late August and threshed it at our Harvest Festival lase September. Sunflowers are growing in this patch in 2013.
We would like to thank Capital Growth who awarded this Brixton Flour project a Growing Spaces grant in 2011 and also Brockwell Bake for their help and advice.
Heritage wheat refers to the varieties of wheat that were grown before the “Green Revolution” in the 1960s. It grows much taller than modern strains of wheat, shading out weeds, and can tolerate much poorer soils because it has a bigger root system to seek out nutrients.
See our blog for more information on heritage wheat and barley.