‘Gardening has probably saved my life’: one thriving Glasgow community

At this vital community space in Govan, locals are mucking in for the good of everyone’s health

Look at Wee Jackie go. Four-foot-nine, 43 years old, gabbing nonstop, grafting nonstop, her full name – Jacqueline – tattooed on the back of her neck, she shoves that wheelbarrow around the garden like Glasgow’s own Sisyphus. “I don’t know where I’d be without this garden,” she says. “I was in a right horrible, deep, dark place. Up to my eyes in debt.” She smiles. “This place has been life-changing.”

We are in Riverside Garden, part of the Riverside Hall community centre, in Govan, Glasgow. On the southern bank of the Clyde, Govan predates the city into which it was later subsumed and retains a certain independence of mind. The area is often associated with hardship and hard men. Locals find this wearisome. They will tell you that crime and deprivation statistics do not represent its true character, which is a gruff tenderness and instinct for solidarity in the face of life’s struggles. A beautiful community garden in Govan is not an anomaly. It is a perfect expression of the spirit of the place – earthy, caring, everyone mucking in together.

Related: How to grow apples | Alys Fowler

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