Over 40 edible gardens across the capital are inviting people new to ‘growing their own’ to get involved in the fifth annual Big Dig Day on Saturday 16 April.
The day will give novice growers a chance to learn about bee-friendly food growing, and help the gardens out with spring tasks, such as planting potatoes, preparing raised beds and sowing seeds and flowers that encourage wildlife.
The Big Dig Day is run by Capital Growth , a network of over 2,000 food growing gardens which together cover an area of land equivalent to over 100 Wembley pitches. Our member gardens are found on roofs, in parks and tucked away in hidden corners where they grow food and provide much needed greenery for the city. The network also has flagship sites in The Regent’s Park and in hubs across London, including the Castle Climbing Centre in Hackney and Oasis Farm in Waterloo. Over the past four years, the Big Dig has seen 8,000 volunteers across the UK lend a hand to community food growing.
“This year we want people new to growing or community gardens to come out and lend a hand. Many Londoners don’t have access to their own gardens so this is a great chance to get outdoors and learn the basics. And for those who are lucky enough to have an allotment or garden, there will be workshops and advice to take away” commented Maddie Guerlain from Capital Growth.
One group taking part in the day is Abbey Gardens in Stratford, who are running workshops to help people learn the basics of urban gardening. Garden coordinator Vicki Lewis explains, “The Big Dig is always a very special day for Abbey Gardens as it gets us ready for the season ahead and is a chance to welcome new faces to our garden. You don’t need to be an experienced gardener – just bring your enthusiasm to try out gardening.”
Over in Peckham, Glengall Wharf Garden will run family activities as well as provide opportunities for new volunteers. Long-term volunteer Bronwyn Louw commented “Being in the garden is an excellent de-stresser,and a good way to connect with other people. Plus, you'll learn something new about your food. We always need volunteers of all sorts, and it's really nice to get involved and feel that you're doing something useful.”
The Big Dig marks the start of a new three year Capital Growth initiative called London Grows , which will help over 2,000 people get involved in community growing projects, wildlife-friendly food growing and improving London’s green environment.
To find a garden in your area, or to register your garden to take part in the day, visit our interactive map at www.bigdig.org.uk/london/
- Capital Growth is a London Food Link project (part of wider charity Sustain), set up in 2008 to help set up 2,012 new community food growing spaces. Capital Growth initiated the Big Dig day in London in 2012 and continues to support over 2000 members with funding from The Mayor of London and The City Bridge Trust. www.capitalgrowth.org
- London Grows is Capital Growth’s new three year initiative to support 2,000 Londoners to learn how to grow their own fruit and vegetables and increase wildlife in the city, funded by the City Bridge Trust, as part of their Investing in Londoners programme. The funding covers training, events and large volunteering days, with the aim of improving knowledge and understanding of wildlife-friendly food growing, and the well-being of Londoners as a result of volunteering in their local food growing gardens. www.citybridgetrust.org.uk
- A selection of gardens taking part include:
- Abbey Gardens will be open from 10:00am – 4:00pm and welcomes people to stop by at any time. They will also be hosting short workshops ‘Urban food growing for beginners’ at 11:00am and 3:00pm.
- Oasis Farm Waterloo is a new urban farm that works in partnership with Jamie’s Farm to care for farm animals, grow fruits and vegetables, manage an aquaponics project and provide learning opportunities for local schools and residents. They will be sowing seeds and making garden crafts from 10:00am-3:00pm.
- The Castle Climbing Centre is a one acre garden located at a climbing centre that has a wildlife pond, forest garden, fresh veggies and lots of neat nooks for kids to explore. There will be garden growing activities, tours, sow a seed and take it home, Q&A with expert growers, cob oven pizzas, garden drinks and children's activities from 11:00am – 4:00pm.
- Glengall Wharf Garden will be open from 11:00am-4:00pm with growing related activities for new growers of all ages, plus tea and cakes available.
- The Big Dig, now in its fifth year, is also running in Manchester and Birmingham this year, with partner organisations Sow the City and Growing Birmingham. www.bigdig.org.uk
- Nationally, the Big Dig network is coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, which advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture, and promote equity. www.sustainweb.org
- Interviews with volunteers and garden leaders are available on request. Photos available on request or see photos of previous year’s on Flickr.
Published 5 Apr 2016
Capital Growth: We believe everyone should have the opportunity to grow food as part of a healthy, resilient food system and we are working with our network of growers in London to make this happen.
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