Can you grow £500 worth of food without a garden or an allotment? That’s the target North London resident Mark Ridsdill Smith set himself in May last year. And by 8 October he’d already beaten it by £169 – all from his 9 x 6 foot north-west facing balcony and six window sills. “Few people realise just how much you can grow in a tiny space” said Mark. “My balcony and window sills produced the equivalent of 100 bags of salad, 120 packets of herbs and 92 punnets of tomatoes – as well as runner beans, courgettes, mange tout, carrots, potatoes, blueberries and strawberries.” He added: “A big advantage of balcony growing is that you can keep a constant eye on your crops and harvest your food five minutes before you eat. It doesn’t get fresher than that!” Even if you have only a few windowsills, you can still grow several hundred pounds of food a year. Mark estimates that over £200 of food came from his four south-facing window sills. http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/
The People’s Supermarket co-operative in Lamb’s Conduit Street now features a kitchen, turning food from the store which would otherwise go to waste, into ready-prepared meals. A broken bag of lentils becomes a spicy dahl, bruised apples are used for apple crumble, and damaged oranges equal an orange cake. Lasagnes, curries, quiches, salads and soups are prepared with no additives or flavouring, from recipes supplied by the supermarket’s founder, chef and sustainability pioneer Arthur Potts Dawson. http://www.thepeoplessupermarket.org/
Street Kitchen will be taking its New York-style food truck on the road again in early 2011, with plans to pop up in the City, and also around Sloane Square. In the first venture of its kind in the UK, last October saw Jun Tanaka, executive chef at Pearl Restaurant, and Mark Jankel, chef and founder of The Food Initiative, take to the streets of London in an Airstream kitchen, cooking up British seasonal food for Londoners to eat on the go, with all produce bought directly from sustainable and organic UK farms and producers. Follow @streetkitchen on twitter for updates.
Grey Court School in Ham, Richmond, is one step closer to its dream of setting up a school farm. With the help of local campaigning group School Food Matters, it reached the finals of ITV’s People’s Millions competition, winning funding to keep free range hens in secure enclosures on the school grounds, and set up an egg-selling enterprise. As well as helping other local schools rear chickens, Grey Court will have a ‘hen hotel’ in the holidays for all local school chickens, cared for by the part-time poultry keeper, who will also teach students and locals about chicken keeping. Local families can also get involved, by boarding some chickens in the holidays. http://www.schoolfoodmatters.com/
At the end of last year, the public decided to award £50,000 to Harmony Gardens, a Haringey community gardening project, as part of The People’s Millions – a partnership between the BIG Lottery Fund and ITV. The project, run by charity Back2Earth, works with the local community to provide flourishing, local food-growing community gardens, on the empty ground around the Broadwater Farm Community Centre. The project also aims to provide: green gyms and community vegetable growing, with raised beds for easy access; a cordoned fruit tree tunnel walkway; a productive, organic children’s nature garden; beekeeping with beehives; a polytunnel for propagation; and a potting shed/eco building. http://www.back2earth.org.uk/
Station House Community Café is the first of a series of cafés to be launched by food-recycling project FoodCycle. The café uses FoodCycle’s model of combining young volunteers and surplus food to create nutritious meals and positive social change in the community, and is open every Friday lunchtime, at MIND, Station House, 73c Stapleton Hall Road, N4 3QF. http://www.foodcycle.org.uk/