Susy Powesland, an early champion of the importance of sustainable living and urban food growing in East London, has died aged 90 in St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Part of  Susy’s inspiring legacy lives on in the Globe Community Food Growing Garden on the Victoria Park Estate in Bethnal Green, a few minutes walk from the underground station.

She was in her 80s, when along with two friends from the London Buddhist Centre, she got the garden off the ground. She negotiated use of the green space in her usual inimitable style. Then kept the garden going through thick and thin, still keeping an active eye on the raised beds and seasonal planting schedules right up to her death.

Aged 9 Susy was on the last train out of Vienna in 1939 to take Jewish refugees on board and the last boat from Holland to carry Jewish refugees to England.

She escaped the Nazi occupation of her Austrian homeland to find herself landing overnight in a new country, language and culture. Her experience of becoming a refugee is reflected in the priorities of the local charity she set up, Globe Community Project ( as well as her community-orientated green fingers.

For Susy community gardening was part of an all encompassing vision of resilient, inclusive communities and as important as the education and anti-racist work with the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets which led to her MBE for ‘services to black and ethnic minority people in East London’.  Just a few months back she told a close friend: 

I am sometimes quite aware that I am almost bound not to live much longer. It doesn’t fill me with fear, that thought. At its best, there is a sense of the preciousness of the life that I have still got. I love to see the sun. I can’t see very well but I can see if it is sunny, I can see green. There is a new silver birch in the garden, I can’t see it properly but I can see it moving. That still inspires me, opens me up.’


Sally Ramsden


Globe Community Food Garden volunteering induction sessions:

Sundays 11 – 1.00 pm by prior arrangement.  All welcome.


Contact Sally Ramsden:



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