Siting Swift Boxes at Kew Gardens Station

Observations from Garden Designer and Community Outreach Officer Catherine Rocca 

Swift Boxes

“Robins don’t do gender equality…they don’t share your modern views.”

So says Edward Mayer, Head of Swift Conservation at RSPB. Mr. Mayer came out to Kew Gardens voluntarily (although he was super happy with the Energy Garden Ale I brought for him). He was bringing expert advice on where to site the swift boxes we had bought from the Forest Recycling Project in Walthamstow Forest.

Edward is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about UK birds; he was able to instantly identify all the birdsong we heard at the station. He recognized that there were mostly robins around, meaning that we should site the boxes as far apart as possible. Robins are territorial and a male robin will die protecting his female so that she can successfully raise their young. In light of this, Edward asked me what my boyfriend was like…I said I need to have a word with him.


Sustainably-designed Swift Boxes from Forest Recycling Project


Swift Boxes


As for the boxes themselves, FRP uses reclaimed scaffolding board to create planters, bird and bat boxes and sells them at prices you can’t find anywhere else. FRP’s most recent project, entitled, Waltham Forest Foundations, runs voluntary workshops that promote social inclusion by supporting vulnerable adults as they learn skills in the sustainability sector. If you happen to be looking for a change of colour in your life, they also have a warehouse full of disused paint which they sell very cheap.


A Kew Gardens Community Collaboration


Swift Boxes


This Energy Garden “mini-project” involved:

  • Kew Society gardeners
  • RSPB
  • FRP
  • Local community members

Each group brought different levels of expertise, enthusiasm and perspective to the same project. The end result is a more beautiful station, an improved habitat for urban bird populations and a greater sense of community. The Kew Society gardeners are currently organizing for Edward Mayer to give talks on biodiversity and wildlife for the whole group.

There are multiple ways you can get involved with this community of doers. You can join us for event days, of which we have multiple upcoming, including:

You can also consider joining our Community Benefit Society
by buying a stake in our bond offer. This innovative finance method allows for equality in decision making regarding Energy Garden activities. It helps fund mini-projects like the swift boxes and macro-projects like our Youth Training Programme.


Either way, we want you to take part in this journey with us. Watch this space!

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