21 Sep 2010
London’s housing estate residents are becoming community food growers through the Edible Estates competition, launched by Mayor Boris Johnson.
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London’s housing estate residents are becoming community food growers.
Social housing residents in London are being challenged to become the capital’s best community food growers. Launched by the city’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, the Edible Estates competition is designed to get housing associations committed to providing plots of land that tenants can nurture into thriving food gardens. There are an estimated 750,000 social housing properties in London.
The challenge is part of the Capital Growth scheme, which is aiming to create 2,012 community food-growing spaces by 2012 in a range of locations. Many of the city’s allotments are over-subscribed.
Mayor Boris Johnson confirmed there are already 500 growing spaces up and running in a range of diverse places, including schools, on roofs, in skips and even on a canal boat.
“People are discovering the joy of growing their own grub, getting to know their neighbours and reclaiming patches of neglected earth,” he said. “I warmly welcome the landowners and organisations who have come on board to help provide the land for Capital Growth. I call on even more [landowners] to rally to our green-fingered cause.”
Edible Estates was launched at the Cranbrook Estate Capital Growth plot in Tower Hamlets, where the benefits of food growing are already being reaped. The Cranbrook community food growing group is now in its second year and has attracted 15 regular growers who have expanded their initial plot from three to ten raised beds. The space is in a former playground that had been padlocked up and left to become overgrown. Residents cultivate a range of fruit and vegetables, as well as mustard seeds grown by local Bengali women. Surplus produce is sold at a low cost to neighbours.
Metropolitan Housing Trust London is one of the first organisations to sign up, pledging to identify 20 plots for its residents to get started. Managing director, Neil Mawson, said: “Local food growing is a fantastic activity for our communities. Our residents enjoy it because it’s fun but it also helps in many other ways, including healthy eating, mental and physical well-being, inter-generational support and social cohesion beyond estates.”
There are three categories within the Edible Estates competition. Prizes will be awarded for: the community garden that has developed the most creative ways to engage people; making the best use of forgotten objects, such as old bins, shoes or tyres; and developing several ideas, such as recycling, water collection, fruit growing and community engagement, to make it an agent of change in the estate. Prizes include 250 gift cards, tool sets, worm cafÈs, training, as well as practical help and advice. The closing date is 20th October, 2010.
Contact: London Food Link, Sustain,
94 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7837 1228
Mike Wohl and local children harvest a really big cabbage!
Photo: Copyright Lets Go Lets Grow
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