Many Hands Make Light Work, As Chiswick Oasis 'Living Wall' Takes Shape

Volunteers planting and painting for the 'greening up' of St Mary's Primary School

close up view of the chiswick green wall

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We've finally begun installing the living wall in the playground: and it's better that anyone dreamed, writes Andrea Carnevali.

The "educational wall” in the far right corner mainly made of herbs and plants of all kind, from Sage, to wild strawberries, the central section will be made of ivy, which we know it's not only the easiest to maintain, but also one of the most effective when if comes to pollution.

On the left side of the playground, the one which is shared by the Hogarth Youth Centre, children from the William Hogarth School and St Mary's, is the living wall which we jokingly call the “show-off” wall. It's a real beauty, something which now elevated the whole space.

Andrea Carnevali at the Green Wall

ANS Global is doing a sterling job, linking it all with their irrigation system which is remotely controlled from their headquarter. We know we are in safe hands and the fact that they've given us free maintanance for the next 5 years makes us feel even more relaxed.

We cannot wait to show this with the rest of Chiswick (though a lot of people have been taking various peeks already): we're inviting everyone on the 29th of June from 11am till evening for our big inauguration. There's going to be music, games, food, drinks, celebrities, our Mayor and people will even get the chance to put their own imprint into the wall: this project could never have been done without the support of the local community and I really wanted the wall itself to reflect that.
So, we've left several empty slots in the educational side. Each one of the pupils will be encourage to grow their own little plant in one of the slots and mark it with one of our colourful wooden labels. But also we would like people from Chiswick, all our fans, supporters, benefactors, sponsors, to fill one slot each with a plant of their own too.

putting the green wall together

This is only Phase One for this "green oasis". In late September or beginning of October, Trees For Cities will give a further injection of £30,000 towards greening up even more of the playground. We're talking about having a vegetable garden, more plants and more hedges, etc. Stay tuned for more news on this.

But the other crucial thing which we really need to do now is go go higher with the green infrastructure, above the brick wall itself and along the mesh which is currently at the top of it. Only then our children will get the full benefit of this pollution-stopper.

Unfortunately quite recently we found out that if we grow our green wall all the way up and cover the mesh on top, the brick wall underneath might not be strong enough in case of a big gust of wing (they say the covered mesh will be like a sail and it might take the brick wall down in case of strong wind). It's a small chance, but one which obviously we do not want to take.

long view of the Chiswick Green Wall

So for the time being we decided to go as far as we can go without causing problems (i.e. to the top of the brick wall). The next step would be to reinforce the brick structure with steel poles cemented into the concrete right next to the wall. To make things more complicated one side of this wall belongs to the Council and the other side (facing the A4) belongs to TFL.
Needless to say, we're now asking for both to help us re-inforcing this brick wall. This is a job which has been quoted to us at around £70/80k. Clearly the school cannot afford this, but it seems to me that even more clearly, after all this work we did on our own, with the help from our community and our own sponsors, that it's about time Goverment does something for us too.

two local councillors painting school

Cllrs Sam Hearn and Ron Mushiso

Less than a month ago St Mary's School was on the Times's front page as the most polluted school in the whole of Hounslow. We've been doing our best to improve that. But we can't be alone in fighting this.

The green wall obviously has other benefits too beyond reducing pollutant and offsetting the carbon footprint- it also acts as a sound proofing barriers, and it will provide opportunities for pollinating insects, invertebrates and birds as well as offering educational and general wellbeing benefits to children and staff.

But while all of this is happening outside in the playground, inside St Mary School, another Clean Air experiment is happening. We are redecorating our the kitchen and the large dining area with a special paint which has been donated to us for free by Airlite who claims this product will clear the air inside by 88%. We've been monitoring the air inside for months now and we're looking forwards to seeing the results by the end of this trial.

The redecorating job began this week with help of volunteers, parents from the school a professional painter from Enjoy-Work (Chiswick Park) and today we've even welcomed councillor Ron Mushiso (number 1 fan on any clean air initiative we've been running so far) and Sam Hearn. On Monday another Councillor, John Todd, had arrived on his bike at 9am asking “where's the brush?”.

I'm really moved by the support, the care and the attention I've been getting from our local “politicians” lately. A really nice counterbalance from everything else we're reading in the news on the EU front these days.

‘Chiswick Oasis' was launched in September by a group of parents from St. Mary's and William Hogarth primary schools, which are immediately adjacent to the proposed site of the project at the southern end of Duke Road. The schools' grounds run alongside the A4, a major six-lane road which carries up to 100,000 motor vehicles every day.

Air pollution levels surveys carried out around William Hogarth School and Cavendish Primary, as well as St Mary's found that all three were experiencing high levels of pollution, mainly due to the proximity of busy main roads. In the case of St Mary's approximately 47,300 vehicles per day travel on the core roads within a 200m radius of the school, which the report said was is within the upper quartile for traffic volumes amongst the 50 schools assessed as part of the programme.

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May 30, 2019

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