Much of the food we eat in the UK is imported, and even the food produced here is reliant on fossil fuels such as oil both in growing methods (fertilisers, tractors) and in transportation. In London this is a particular problem, as little of our food is grown locally. Real resilience for London is likely to come from a combination of Community Supported Agriculture (links with farms just outside London), farmers markets, and growing as much as we can in every available space.
We formed a food growing group at our Open Space meeting in January 2012. Our aim is to increase the number of food growing spaces in Dartmouth Park, to learn and teach others the skills to grow and cook our own local and seasonal food, to involve lots of people in the project, and to inspire similar projects to take root in the area.
There are several different sub-projects we are focusing on:
Highgate Newtown Community Centre garden
This was our first public growing space. We gardened there weekly through 2012 and will begin again for spring in March 2013. We will re-start our weekly growing sessions and everyone is welcome to come along, learn and help out. Our first step was to make a site plan during our Intro to Permaculture course in February. We followed this with clearing the first part of the site and in April we made raised beds out of found and salvaged wood. A delivery of municipal compost from the North London Waste Authority in mid-April meant we were ready to go, and we have started to plant our first salad, and vegetables. The garden has been a great success, looked beautiful all summer, and we were able to host several lunches and learning sessions. Read more on the HNCC garden project page.
We hold regular gardening and permaculture workshops, and hope eventually to supply the HNCC cafe with some fresh salad, hebs and vegetables. See our events page for upcoming workshops
See pics of the garden on Facebook.
We were approached by Whittington Hospital who kindly offered us the chance to grow food on two plots of land on the hospital site. We are working together with Transition Highgate on the project, and decided to use this as an opportunity to engage the hospital staff in food growing. We began last May by holding meetings with staff to speak about Transition, food growing and start the process of forming a Whittington gardening club.
The first plot, ‘Whittington Green’, will be a raised bed, vegetable and herb garden, with the opportunity to also plant some fruit shrubs. We held an interactive design workshop with interested staff to plan the space in June, and finally in November a group of staff began to hold regular gardening sessions and planted some perennials in the plot they are temporarily using in the Waterlow Park Kitchen garden. The Whittington Green raised beds will be completed by the hospital by the end of the winter, and in spring 2013 planting of the new garden will begin.
This is a project to match growers who do not have space with those who have gardens but lack either the skills, time or capacity to grow food. Please see the Garden Share project page for more information.
In 2012 we began to map and pick fruit from local trees that were not being harvested, with the aim of reducing food waste, and of course to have delicious local fruit to eat and cook. We will continue in 2013 – please see the Fruit Picking project page for more info.
More plans for 2013
The Growing group, coordinated by Dinaz Stafford and Susan Seymour is planning regular workshops, events and gardening sessions for the year, based around the seasons and with the aim of getting as many of us growing and eating local food as possible, and increasing biodiversity in the area. Please get in touch if you’d like to be involved at firstname.lastname@example.org