Event report: Croydon Environmental Fair, Saturday 11th June 2016

By - Thursday 14th July, 2016

Andrew Dickinson reports on undampened spirits and a growing sense of community purpose among green (and Green) minded Croydonians

Photo by Croydon Environment Fair, used with permission.

It took a while (five years in fact) but eventually the Croydon Environmental Fair (which started life know as the Green Fair) landed in its always intended location of Wandle Park on Saturday 11th June. It’s a permanent home. Why five years? Well, the event would have kicked off here in 2011 but as the park was about to be torn up to allow its magnificent refurbishment and transformation, it had to look for an alternative venue and has been homeless ever since.

The very first fair took place in the Bramley Hill Centre in May 2011. There followed three years in North End, followed by last year’s location of Surrey Street. Not ideal, but it kept the DNA of the event going.

So finally, the core of original organisations plus a few new ones, this little band of gypsies, created a beautiful home on the grassed semi-circle and soft, green lawns that make up the bandstand area.

The music fitted the event like a favourite pair of old jeans

Homebrood plays the Wandle Park bandstand.
Photo by Croydon Environmental Fair, used with permission.

We had a lively pop-up bar, a mobile food stall supplied by the cafe, ten stalls and a programme of live music performing in the bandstand organised by Freedom of Expression. The park is a beautiful backdrop to any event but it seemed to gently receive and caress the event in its soft, green lushness as if to say: “hey you’re finally home. It’s been a long time coming but I’m glad to have you here, we’re a natural fit. You guys care about the environment and people.This is where you belong”.

Unfortunately, as the event started to gain momentum and the footfall started to pick up, as pitchers of Pimm’s and delicious wraps were being consumed, with people sitting on the lawns chilling and with the music fitting the event like a pair of favourite old jeans, the English weather had seen enough and decided to pour down on us for the next two hours, sending people running for cover and home, not to return again this day.

The wonderful stallholders took it all in their stride. Saffron farmer Ally McKinlay danced and painted in the rain, Fairtrade and the vegetarians kept their delicious nibbles going, Nola of Herbology 360 kept offering healthy tasters of freshly pressed juices, Eunice Dickinson with her Croydon Re-use Network impressed with her waste-to-products range and Charles Barber with Rainforest Saver gave a wry smile as he said it felt like a rainforest! Numerous networking opportunities went on under the grey skies as like-minded folk met up, some for the first time.

We have created something special in our community

Lend and Tend stall.
Photo by Croydon Environmental Fair, used with permission.

With an hour to go to the 4:00pm finish and no sign of a break in the rain, stallholders were told that if they wanted to start packing for an early finish then go ahead, but to a person they wanted to remain as they were enjoying themselves. Their loyalty was rewarded when the sun finally broke through and the last hour was suddenly energised. The musicians kept playing as if their lives depended on it and the bar and food services became busy once more as new arrivals checked out the sounds. Suddenly we had the event back and we carried on to the finish. Slightly wet, but all with the realisation that we had created and now have something special in our community.

So now that we have arrived home and seen that Wandle Park and the Environmental Fair are a perfect fit, we can look forward to June 10th 2017 with great optimism as we build on the event and see it grow year on year. With your support and participation this event will be cemented in to Croydon’s event calendar for many years to come. Croydon’s environmental groups deserve their day of togetherness. Be part of it.

Andrew Dickinson

Andrew Dickinson

I'm a long term resident of Croydon and I'm lucky to live and work in the borough. As a schoolboy my proudest moments were playing representative football for Croydon where I would fight tooth and nail to win for the borough and contribute towards its sporting reputation. For 18 years I worked up in London and became distanced from the town. Now I've re-engaged with the place over the last 20 years and feel frustrated in finding a way to vent my passion for Croydon (as I'm too old to play football) so I'm always on the lookout for any new initiatives to bring positivity to the place. I live on Bramley Hill with my lovely family and I have an allotment locally. I'm a keen amateur in gardening, environmentalism, permaculture, photography and website design. I'm an oyster mushroom farmer, run a social enterprise called Green Croydon, I'm part of the Croydon Fairtrade steering group, part of the Croydon ReUse Organisation, current chair of Croydon Transition Town and a community gardener; I'm on the borough Food Programme, Parks and Social Enterprise steering groups and a community apple presser. I currently work for the council as an officer creating and promoting community events in the beautiful Wandle Park. I put on the Croydon Environmental Fair each year and the Summer of Love theme and festival was something I dreamed up. I inspired the 'I would make Croydon better by' theme. There's also the Give and Take events in Surrey Street. I started the monthly Arts, Crafts and Vintage market in Exchange Square. Formerly I was a Turf Projects trustee, a Croydon Radio presenter and part of the Old Town business association.Between all this, I write the occasional article for the Citizen. I support local artists and local musicians by enabling the space for them to create I also support local independent journalism.

More Posts - Website - Twitter

  • blath8@googlemail.com

    Fantastic event, am looking forward to next year :-)