Alternatives to allotment growing
Words by Katrin Schlenzka
If you can’t — or won’t — wait for an allotment there are still plenty of ways that you can get growing.
Lewisham itself is keen to promote Community gardens and, in association with Capital Growth (set up to encourage food growing in London) support Capital Growth’s plan to open 2,012 (see what they did there?) community gardens. I wonder what the plans will be next year?
Then again there are other contacts and sources that can help and provide growing opportunities. Capital Growth is a London-wide scheme, then there is the unofficial approach of Guerilla Gardening, where you can find an ad hoc project. Some years ago the planters by the Marquis of Granby pub in New Cross were replanted through them and it looks like they could do with a refresh, locally there is the Brockley and New Cross transition town groups that could have plans in place. One community garden that has already opened with success is Sandbourne Road community garden in Telegraph Hill. It’s also worth checking out Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s landshare schemes which encourages people to tend to land/gardens that the owners can’t care for themselves. Some great classes (on composting, permaculture and beekeeping among others) are to be had at the local community garden Green Shoots in New Cross Gate.
For all those keen to go the non-allotment route and to get more involved in options throughout the community, you might be inspired by a scheme that happened in Todmorden (Incredible Edible) where the common spaces were planted up with edible plants and everybody was allowed to help themselves to the harvest whether they had helped grow the plants or not. More information on this project can be found here.
Last of all, don’t forget to use your own garden. Plant edible plants like chard and rhubarb in your borders; they’re attractive and look after themselves. How about using your front garden or balcony? Many vegetables can now be grown in containers including potatoes, mini courgettes, tomatoes and herbs. Just remember that containers need to be watered and they rely on you for food so the larger the container the better. If in doubt, experiment. Rocket can even be grown in old roasting pans and, if all else fails, try sprouting seeds indoors. Apparently micro greens are all the rage in the top restaurants.