Mayor launches food growing competition to find green-fingered residents
500 Capital Growth plots now up and growing
Social housing residents are being challenged to become the capital’s best community food growers in a competition launched by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today.
There are an estimated 750,000 social housing properties in London and the Capital Growth team are keen to get residents in estates growing as part of the food growing initiative, supported by the Mayor and run by London Food Link. The ‘Edible Estates’ competition is designed to get housing associations committed to providing plots of land for tenants to nurture into thriving food gardens. The Metropolitan Housing Trust London is one of the first organisations to sign up, pledging to identify 20 plots for its residents to get started.
The announcement comes on the day of an event at City Hall to encourage more sign ups to create 2,012 community Capital Growth food-growing spaces by the end of 2012. The Mayor 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. There are also now eight London boroughs committed to Capital Growth in part by identifying suitable plots. The borough members of Capital Growth are Tower Hamlets, Islington, Lewisham, Haringey, Camden and Lambeth with Sutton and Kensington & Chelsea signing up at today's event.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Capital Growth has already inspired thousands of Londoners to set up 500 community food gardens providing a practical response to the shortage of allotments in some areas. They are discovering the joy of growing their own grub, getting to know neighbours and reclaiming patches of neglected earth. I warmly welcome the landowners and organisations who have come on board to help provide the land needed for Capital Growth. I call on even more to now rally to our green-fingered cause.”
Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, said: “With 500 food growing spaces under our belt we are going all-out to reach our target of 2,012 food growing spaces. The Edible Estates competition is now an added incentive for social housing landlords and their residents to get the food-growing bug. We know from people in estates who are already growing that it can reap huge benefits for their communities.”
Seb Mayfield, London Food Link, said: "Londoners are demonstrating a clear desire to use more land for community food growing. By launching the Edible Estates competition we are sending the message that there is more support than ever for residents to get together and grow their own food."
Neil Mawson, Managing Director for Metropolitan Housing Trust London (MHT London) said, "Local food growing is a fantastic activity for our communities. Our residents enjoy it because it's fun but it also helps in so many other ways, including healthy eating, mental and physical wellbeing, inter-generational support, and social cohesion beyond estates. MHT London is happy to be leading the way amongst RSL's in helping to support Capital Growth."
There is rising interest in self-grown food and inner London boroughs have waiting lists for allotments that can be decades long. Entrants to Edible Estates must be a new community food growing space or an expansion of an existing space on a housing estate. For details on how to enter go to: www.capitalgrowth.org/edibleestatescompetition. Prizes include £250 gift cards, tool sets, worm cafes, training as well as practical help and advice. The closing date is 1 October, 2010.
Edible Estates was launched at the Cranbrook Estate Capital Growth plot in Cranbrook Estate, Tower Hamlets, who are already reaping the benefits of food growing. 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 10 raised beds nurturing a range of fruit and vegetables. Local Bengali women grow mustard seeds and dudhi. Surplus produce is sold at a low cost to neighbours. The space is located in a former playground that had been padlocked up, left to decay and become overgrown.
Notes to editors:
· Capital Growth was launched by Rosie Boycott, the Chair of London Food and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson in November 2008. It aims to provide an alternative to allotments, many of which are over-subscribed, to create 2,012 community food growing spaces by 2012 in a wide range of places. In 2010, Capital Growth launched a primary schools competition. Capital Growth can offer practical help, training and match land with gardeners.
It is funded by the Mayor of London and by Local Food, part of the Big Lottery Fund's Local Food Scheme. It is managed – and was initiated - by London Food Link, part of the environment charity, Sustain. www.capitalgrowth.org
Boosting the amount of locally grown food in London improves access to nutritious, low cost food in urban areas, forges community spirit and helps to make the city more pleasant. It also reduces food miles and the associated carbon emissions. There is rising interest in self-grown food and many London boroughs have waiting lists for allotments that can be decades long.
· Prizes in the Edible Estates competition prizes, are as follows:
Prizes have been donated from B&Q, Bulldog, Gardening Express, The Seed Pantry and Wiggly Wigglers
· For the three overall winners
o £250 gift card from B&Q
o 10-piece tool set from Bulldog
o A worm café from wiggly wiggler
o 3 Spaces for Capital Growth training at Regent’s Park
· For the 6 runners up
o £100 gift card from B&Q
o Set of fruit bushes from B&Q
o Small vegetable voucher from Rocket Gardens
o 1 Space for Capital Growth Training at Regent’s Park
The first ten communities who register for the competition at www.capitalgrowth.org/edibleestatescompetition will enter a draw to win help from Mears Group or a Little Potter seed set from The Seed Pantry. Mears Group is offering help to ten communities to do any of the following
· Clear land
· Prepare Soil
· Build Raised Beds
· Build Storage
· Build fences
· Build a Water Source
The Edible Estates competition is open now and will run until 1 October 2010, with an aim to engage community housing in food growing. There are 3 categories:
- Plants and People: This category will reward the community garden that has developed the most creative ways to engage people
- Collect and Create: This category challenges gardens to find creative ways to use forgotten objects such as old bins, shoes or tyres
- Best Estate Garden: This category will look at the garden that has developed several ideas such as recycling, water collection fruit growing, and community engagement successfully, making the garden an agent of change in the estate
The 500th Capital Growth plot is in Regent’s Park.