When you grow up loving nature, how do you cope with the possibility of losing it all?

Back to the Garden? is a short documentary by Michelle Golder

A personal study of a unique woman at a pivotal time, Back to the Garden? explores the ways a community garden and the ethos of one of its founders have inspired and educated filmmaker Michelle Golder and many others. Charlotte Synge was the 7th child of an impressive set of parents - Nobel prize-winning biochemist Richard Millington Synge and Virginia Woolf's niece Dr Ann Stephen, both of whom were highly active in the peace and human rights movements and brought their children along. After an early escape to sea, two sons, and a professional life in science, research and education, Charlotte has invested her later years in the most direct environmental action possible – permaculture gardening. The film briefly introduces Charlotte's history, the beautiful community garden she enables in Cambridge, and some of the diverse people who are learning and taking part there. But it also touches on what it feels like to love nature, and to be active and knowledgeable in relation to the earth's environment, at a time when it is about to face catastrophic change. The film ends with Charlotte once again joining a march, through the medieval streets of Cambridge, calling for the university, at which her grandmother gave the first ever lecture in psychoanalysis, to divest from fossil fuels. Can we go back to the garden? Or is it already too late?

Back to the Garden was completed in September 2018. Information about screenings to follow. If you are interested in screening this 21 minute film, contact


Written, directed and edited by Michelle Golder


Neil Oseman - The Garden; Jonnie Howard - The Panel, The Rally; Oggie Tomic - The Rally

Still Photographs: Elena Moses, Michelle Golder, Rebecca Lindum Greene, John Jeckel

Empty Common Theme Composed and Performed by Lachlan Golder

Empty Common Gardeners

(in order of appearance)

Charlotte Synge

Eira Gwynne Carlyn

Marlis Horgan

Simone Castello

Becky Palmer

Simon Castellan

James and Euan Clunie

 Traditional Scottish Folksong Will You Go Lassie, Go (Wild Mountain Thyme) performed by

Rebecca Lindum Greene and Fay Roberts

With Marlis Horgan

Panel Discussion “Being Part of the Solution” recorded at Anglia Ruskin University.

With thanks to the ARU Global Sustainability Institute, Dr Alison Greig and Felicity Clarke

Rally Speakers

(in order of appearance)

Marcel Llavero Pasquina – Cambridge Zero Carbon Society

Edward Gildea – Cambridge Climate Alliance

Jenny Langley – Fossil Free Cambridgeshire

Rally Musicians

Drummers: Jane Hollingworth, Obe Heginbotham; Guitar and Songleading: Ian Turner; Singers: Jo Thulborn, Janet Walker, Wendy Hardeman, Sharron Mahoney, Sue Rogers,  Andrew Bradford

Rally Song: Song for the Climate (Do It Now!)
Music: Traditional (Bella Ciao), Lyrics: Nic Balthazar and Stef Kamil Carlens

The Empty Common Community Garden Blog: 

The Permaculture Society: