A new three year initiative has been launched to help over 2,000 volunteers get involved in wildlife-friendly food growing. Run by Capital Growth , London’s largest food growing network, it will kick off at a Big Dig day on Saturday 16 April.
The new London Grows initiative , funded by the City Bridge Trust will run three seasonal volunteering days at gardens throughout the city, giving new visitors the chance to help out at community growing projects in parks, housing estates, and schools. As well as the Big Dig in April, there will be a health and well-being day in July and harvest festivals in September. Thousands of Londoners new to growing their own food, can learn new skills and lend a hand with garden tasks. London Grows will also run a programme of hands-on training in flagship gardens  to teach volunteers about wildlife friendly food growing in the city.
Maddie Guerlain, project officer at Capital Growth, commented:
“Each year thousands of people across Capital Growth’s network dig in with community gardens to get their hands on precious London-grown fruit and veg, meet their neighbours, and top up their vitamin D. Capital Growth gardens grow food worth over £2 million every year and London Grows is all about opening up these opportunities to more Londoners and giving more people the skills to grow their own, bringing much needed wildlife to the city.”
London Grows will reach out to people keen to improve their health whilst learning new skills with workshops on topics such as urban foraging, DIY botanical beauty and how to ‘grow wild’ in the city. The initiative will work closely with existing edible garden hubs that showcase what has already been achieved in the city.
Bronwyn Louw, a resident of Peckham and regular volunteer at Glengall Wharf Garden, one of the flagship gardens involved, said:
“I love seeing things change through the season, and discovering what's ready to eat! The garden is a very calm space in the middle of the city, which has a really positive effect on me. It’s great chatting to new and interesting people while doing something productive and learning something new. ”
London Grows launches on Saturday 16 April with the Big Dig day. Volunteers can find a local garden to volunteer at on our map  and community gardens can register their garden to take part or attend an event to find out more on 16 March 2016 .
For more information on London Grows visit www.londongrows.org
For enquiries or pictures contact Sarah Williams on 0203 5596 777 or email@example.com
1. Capital Growth was started by London Food Link (part of Sustain) in 2008 to help set up 2,012 new community food growing spaces, and initiated the Big Dig day in London in 2012. The network continues to support its 2,400+ members and received funding this year from The Mayor of London as well as new funding from The City Bridge Trust. The project is a part of Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming. www.capitalgrowth.org
2. London Grows, an initiative to support more Londoners to learn how to grow their own fruit and vegetables in wildlife-friendly gardens, has been funded by the City Bridge Trust, as part of their Investing in Londoners programme. The funding will pay for two part time staff, as well as training, events and large volunteering days, with the aim of improving knowledge and understanding of wildlife friendly food growing, and the physical well-being of Londoners as a result of volunteering in their local food growing gardens. www.citybridgetrust.org.uk
3. Seasonal open days and training sessions will take place at London Grows garden hubs across the city, including
a. Abbey Gardens: A community garden in West Ham surrounding part of the ruins of a 12th century abbey. There are free garden club sessions and new gardeners are always welcome. The garden is open to visitors from dawn till dusk.
b. The Castle Garden is a one acre garden with a pond, herb garden, mini allotment plot and a small patchwork farm growing salads for a local box scheme, based at The Castle Climbing Centre in Green Lanes.
c. Oasis Farm Waterloo is using creative growing spaces and inspirational architecture to turn a strip of former waste land into a flourishing new farm in central London. Working with Jamie’s Farm, they are expanding their unique programme of ‘farming, family and therapy’ into the city to re-engage children with academic life.
d. Glengall Wharf Garden is a new community garden space at the top of the Surrey Canal Walk in Burgess Park. The garden was designed using permaculture principles and includes bee hives, a wildlife pond, rescued hens and community beds for growing fruit and veg. Their aim is to develop the garden for local people to share skills related to food and growing.
e. The Regents Park Allotment Garden is Capital Growth’s flagship site located in the heart of the Regents Park and run in partnership with The Royal Parks and Capel Manor College. The garden runs food growing training for hundreds of Londoners every year, as well as advice and education for thousands of schools children and visitors.
4. The Big Dig day is an annual event that takes place in around 50 gardens across London as well as in Manchester and Birmingham. A list of gardens taking part can be found on the website, where additional gardens wanting to take part can also register.
5. Networking Event; Dig in with Capital Growth, takes place on Wednesday 16 March at Hackney City Farm and is for community gardens who want to learn about working with volunteers, raising funds for their gardens or for people wanting to learn about wildlife friendly growing.
Sustain: Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming 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.
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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.