Anwara Uddin, Seed Guardian, Selby Street Gardening Club
My name is Anwara. I’m a housewife. I have two children. I live in a small flat. About four years ago Katherine came from Spitalfields farm and invited us to come and grow some vegetables. In the beginning we were scared and shy. I thought, how can I go outside, dig soil and grow food and vegetables? But my friend Halema and me, and then the other ladies, we made the Selby Street Gardening Club. Each time we meet in Selby Street community hall. At the end of the year we have a party. Everyone makes a separate dish. We take pictures of our vegetables and display them in the community hall, and everybody shares their experiences and seeds.
Why I grow my own food
I love growing my own food. I enjoy it. And I eat fresh food from my garden.
Why I save seeds
I save my own seed because next year I don’t have to buy seed.
Connection between growing and my heritage
I come from Bangladesh. When I was small I saw my mother growing these vegetables. I would help her. I have a brother and sister. We had a competition, whose plants grew quicker, which one produced more food. I saw how my mother looked after the garden. I learned with my mum.
How I feel when I’m working in the garden
When I came to this country I missed everything. After twenty years I started gardening. I live in a flat, without a garden. I am happy now I am growing my favourite plants. I feel better now. Before I thought, how can I go outside? It was very difficult for me. Now I feel very comfortable. I’m not scared of anything. Before, all the neighbours spoke English. Just me, Bengali. When I went downstairs I said “Hello.” Nothing. I thought, oh my God, how do I speak? If I make a mistake they will laugh. I felt very shy. I was scared and thought how can I go outside and meet people and talk to them? But now I speak, and everybody is friendly. We talk a long time about their family, my family, about this country, the weather. Now I can discuss everything. I feel comfortable and very proud. Gardening gave me this experience and opportunity. It changed my life.