Ten of London's best food gardens
2018 marks 10 years since the launch of Capital Growth, London Food Link’s food growing initiative. With a decade of connecting people, sharing skills, and celebrating food under our toolbelt, Francesca Nicol looks at ten of the network’s 2,500+ food gardens across the city.
An example of how effective garden spaces can deliver true change, this Lewisham wellbeing centre focuses on recovery for adults with mental and physical health problems. Their projects are overseen by staff qualified in psychology, therapeutic teaching, and horticulture.
As the UK’s only LGBTQIA+ growing group, its work goes beyond gardening and incites social change from their base in Hackney. Their plot at the 2018 RHS Hampton Court Flower Show won with a rainbow of pansies, a beautiful reclamation of derogatory language. They also distributed rainbow chard seeds at Pride, displaying the joyful strength they bring to the community.
Maryon Park Community Food Garden
In 2012, committed volunteers, and funding from Capital Growth, transformed a former 1970s council plant nursery for the next stage of its life. Now with growing plots, an orchard, and a forest school classroom, it’s a hub for the community. Check it out for this year’s Urban Harvest.
Whetstone Stray Allotments Community Plot
This garden shows us how small growing spaces can make a huge impact. Opening areas of the Barnet allotment site for people who cannot manage their own individual plots has created a healing, safe space.
May Project Gardens
One of the first Capital Growth spaces, it is now known for its Hip Hop Garden course run by garden guru KMT, they use youth culture to create alternative education models, engaging young people in food and growing.
Cranbrook Community Garden
Bethnal Green E2
Another of Capital Growth’s first gardens, the last 10 years have seen this space transformed from a disused former children’s playground, to London in Bloom Awards’ Outstanding garden, and a decade-strong community project in the heart of the East End. A firm family fav!
Robin Hood Garden
You can spot this garden by the Robin Hood sign, discarded when the pub closed years and re-erected on the site in a great display of community spirit and evolution. This is fitting as the team behind the garden celebrates bringing members of their local community together as their biggest success.
Spitalfields City Farm
Well cared-for animals make this an educational destination for families and the manure helps the gardens flourish, too. Brimming with edibles, it’s also home to the Coriander Club, a food growing project that grows Bangladeshi vegetables such as kodu, a bottle gourd.
Keats Community Organics
Growing-to-sell is not an easy feat under London’s limitations, but Keats’ harvests stock local restaurants and shops through the season. With volunteers and employed growers, this Welling site is an example of how city growing spaces can uphold a more sustainable food system.
Trafalgar Infant School
Occupying the grounds of an infant school, this garden literally puts the tools in the hands of children to build a more secure future for local food, and develop skills that will be carried forward for generations.