One man’s plan to train troubled teens from a south London housing estate in beekeeping originally aimed to teach them about responsibility and community. But, as Jess McCabe finds out, Stockwell’s young people may need a bit more persuading before the idea flies
Police sergeant Jack Rowlands is a big presence in a small office, as he takes a break from his beat in November 2012 to chat in the headquarters of Community Trust Housing, the social landlord which manages the massive Stockwell Park estate in Lambeth. An immediately likeable south Londoner given to impersonating accents, sergeant Rowlands is here because he’s had a big idea: train up young people of the estate, who he encounters on his beat, to become beekeepers.
‘I was walking around the estate and I saw this massive green area, and I just sort of thought, I’m sure we could do something around nature,’ he says describing his lightbulb moment during our first meeting.
Over the months that have followed, Inside Housing tracked the progress of the beekeeping project, which involves building two hives on an island in the middle of a pond, within the 1,400-home Stockwell Park estate in south London. Sergeant Rowlands’ plan is for rookie beekeepers to sell honey from their hives, generating enough cash to keep the project going.