Covid-19 and our gardening - please read

Links and notes from Lambeth Food Stories – 2021, the state of our food


Sadly, Pam Warhurst was not able to be with us.
Useful Links 
The recording can be found here 
Sign up TODAY to help identify food growing spaces in borough
As outlined by Kate Hogarth – here is the link to Lambeth’s Food Poverty and Insecurity Action Plan
Link to Lambeth Larder’s digital map as demonstrated by Virginia Nimarkoh
Joana Ferro’s presentation can be found here

Questions from the participants:

Do you have any guidelines for what is considered ‘food growing land’ e.g. size in square meters? We would say three square metres is worth developing for food growing.
Is it possible to show a tooltip when you hover a cursor over  the icons on the map? Currently you only get more information if you click on an icon. Sadly this is not possible
Do you have any criteria for roofs? If roofs are accessible and safe, then planters can be used here
Do you think that the influence of growing spaces within lambeth has changed people’s dietary choices or engendered any green values? We think that attitudes are changing, with the recognition that locally sourced, organic fruit and veg holds much greater nutritional value than anything that has been picked, stored in cold storage and shipped from across the world
Who do you expect to be the growers and lead the project in so many areas across a ward? We hope that more and more people will engage in food growing, as they see others doing so – it is catching! We hope that communities will form food growing groups (we know there are at least 200 such groups in the borough already)
Is there a page/guideline of recommended plants that will do well in Lambeth – season/type of soil? This is something we could start to compile – it’s a great idea
Is there a movement within the allotment world to make allotments a bit smaller so that more people could have them? This is a great idea. The allotment world is a bit of a closed shop to us! At present, we are not really engaging with allotment holders – we would love to!
Does the app include any AI to determine still viability? Arup had considered embedding AI/ Machine learning using satellite imagery developed inhouse by Arup but we chose to avoid IP agreement complexities but  aim of creating a methodology that could be easily adopted, replicated and scaled across other boroughs. 
Is there any link with farmers/etc to help with ‘how to grow education’?We are really interested in creating a directory of urban farmers and to develop internships and horticultural training for young people. We know that Myatt’s Fields Park are working on this too
Is there a link for people who want to grow food? This will be where IEL will help link people and place
Will the mapping be used so Lambeth Council provides a new designated Open Space for Food Growing, which is protected from development. as housing is all brownfield, so the land to grow food is not protected. A great question and something we hope we will be able to discuss with the Council once we have the evidence of available space that this map will create.
How creative can people be – could we identify eg flats with balconies where people could grow? We are working to identify space in the public realm this time around – we know that there are other groups looking to identify private spaces
Did I understand correctly that the mapping will carry on just till the end of this March? This is a short sharp project, but the public will be able to verify sites until the end of May
It would be good to know what happened to the WeGrowFor project Yes, this was set up to look at identifying unused private spaces and we were working quite closely with them around a year ago but everything has gone a little cold! But AllotMe has a similar business model which identifies places to grow food.

Comments:

Virginia, the Lambeth larder map is fantastic, thanks for sharing.

Fantastic work Virginia

Excellent resource Virginia! Incredible work!

Norwood Forum considering the ACV route

Cuba has a great model to look at too.

In Buckinghamshire we run Grow to Give supporting allotment tenants to donate spare produce to the local food banks

We just started a project ‘Grow Lewisham’ we would love to be able to map growing spaces in Lewisham.

Brilliant session – thank you!

So interesting and inspiring.

Mapping Lambeth’s food growing potential

Is the grass greener in Lambeth? We think it could be..

Brockwell Park Surgery

One thing we are all agreed on these days: we need green spaces. Recently, London residents rated their parks as the most loved spaces in the City – and Lambeth came out top in a poll of London’s parks and open spaces; we are fortunate to have such beautiful parks but lockdown has shown us that we just don’t have enough of these lovely green spaces.

Can you imagine a Lambeth where these spaces are cared for in a similar way to our parks? – where we create bountiful spaces on our estates and street corners that everyone wants to be in, with consideration for wildlife, birds and bees and with abundant food growing everywhere? We know that there are many unloved spaces that could be transformed but we need you to help us identify them.

We are very excited to be working in partnership with Arup, who will be facilitating research mapping to identify the existing and potential food growing spaces across the whole borough, building a comprehensive food growing map.

We will draw on Arup’s GIS and Landscape Architecture expertise to map and analyse these spaces (i.e. car parks, housing estate lawns, vertical walls, rooftops etc) using free available datasets to identify potential food growing open spaces.

The gaps in the mapping will be filled by Incredible Edible Lambeth’s and other local groups’ food growing knowledge. The insights on potential food growing spaces will also be verified by Incredible Edible Lambeth members and partners.

The end result of this work will be a digital map with existing and potential food growing spaces in Lambeth, informed by on-site verification by you! We will end up with a foldable printed digital map of Lambeth’s existing and potential growing spaces which we hope will support and enable all of us in our ambition to have food growing within 100metres of every Lambeth home.

Why are we doing this work?

  • We are striving to end food poverty by increasing people’s access to healthy, affordable and locally grown and produced food.
  • We hope this map will help to reconnect deprived communities to healthier eating and affordable fresh food
  • A clear visualisation of the green spaces and potential food growing sites will serve to strengthen the local food system resilience
  • The mapping will assist in identifying strategic local food growing and biodiversity restoration locations for communities, landowners and developers in the future, serving as an important spatial database for boroughs and city officials 
  • The methodology of this project offers the opportunity for scalability and replicability across different boroughs in London and aligns with London’s food strategy while supporting Lambeth’s goals and community aspirations.

Finally – the opportunity to increase people’s access to healthy, affordable and locally grown and produced food is the mission. We hope this insight can contribute towards informing local authority’s future development plans and food resilience strategies.

Would you like to be involved in this citizen-led research project and help contribute to the mapping?

First steps: register your interest here.

Then, join our Lambeth Food Story entitled 2021: The State of our Food. You can find it on Eventbrite.

Mapping research to be undertaken in partnership with:


Eden Nature Garden

Here’s a chance to hear from one of our latest group members

Could you tell us a little about yourselves?
Eden Nature Garden was created from a piece of disused church land in 2000 and over the last 20 years has evolved into a beautiful, tranquil garden, a haven for wildlife and a wonderful space for people to sit and enjoy being in nature. The garden is only about an acre in size but is home to a small meadow, lawns, a pond, an apiary of hives, which is managed by the London Beekeepers Association, and several raised beds where individuals without gardens of their own can grow vegetables. Our head gardener, Benny, organises a team of enthusiastic volunteers and we have an ever-growing Friends of Eden membership.


This is a very urban environment – have you found that people have really needed this space this year? Despite the lockdown, have you had increased interest in joining the garden?
When we went into the first lockdown in March 2020, we wondered if we should close the garden. It soon became apparent, however, that Eden was precisely what people needed and many locals discovered us for the first time. The garden is at its best in spring and early summer and so the timing for first-time visitors was perfect. Our volunteer numbers went up and so did our sales of honey!


What would you say are your biggest challenges?
Eden is an unmanned site and we occasionally suffer from anti-social behaviour. This forces us to close the garden for a few weeks at a time which is very frustrating. One of our other main challenges is our lack of water. We collect the rainwater from the shed roof, but it isn’t enough to irrigate the whole garden and if we have a prolonged dry spell, the garden can look parched. We’re raising money to collect and store rainwater from the church roof nearby. It’s always a challenge to find money for capital projects in the garden.


And what are your greatest successes?
One of our greatest successes has been to keep the garden going over the last 20 years on a shoestring budget and with the enthusiasm of its volunteers, especially those who’ve joined us over the last 12 months. We have a strong committee and the potential to extend our reach into the local community. Creating Eden has enabled the local area to feel safe. A wide variety of artists are now visiting Eden to draw inspiration for their work.

Once we emerge from this terrible pandemic, what’s next for you at Eden?
Eden is being increasingly valued by the wider community, and we would like to promote the garden as a centre of excellence for wildlife. We aim to educate people about the importance of encouraging the local flora and fauna and preserving their habitats. We hope to do this through a lecture series, running workshops in the community and installing informative signs in the garden.


We are so delighted that you have joined Incredible Edible Lambeth? How can we be of help to you and your organisation?
Eden is keen to develop its outreach into the wider community and to increase awareness of biodiversity through organic gardening, banning the use of pesticides and the management of food waste. We believe that Incredible Edible shares the same ideas and we would love our two organisations to work together to promote this practice across the borough..


Benny, thanks so much for talking with us – we really hope we can come and video your beautiful garden before too long.

Quote from Esra:

“Born and raised in Aegean in a Cretan Turkish family, I connect to my family through the earth in Eden. The smell of the compost takes me back to my Granma’s garden, to the corner we used play hide and seek. The bay leaves from the garden align the stews i make here to my Aunts nourishing recipes. Eden has been a buoy for me navigating through the pandemic and challenges of settling in a new country.”  

Act today on pesticide use across the UK! Consultation ends 26th February


The news has been filled with articles on the emergency neonicotinoids derogation, but little attention has been given to the Government’s launch of the draft revised UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP). The NAP will set out how pesticides will be used across the UK, and this consultation is our best opportunity in a generation to have our voices heard!


While many organisations will be taking a stand against agricultural pesticide use, few are highlighting a critical gap in the current draft: reducing the use of pesticides in urban and other non-agricultural settings. The current draft NAP does not contain any commitments to phase out this unnecessary exposure to pesticides for millions of UK citizens.


We have a chance to call on the Government to ban all amenity use pesticides (urban pesticides, but also railways, road verges, football pitches etc.) to better protect the health of both people and wildlife!
It’s vital that the UK Government hears from as many of us as possible before 26th February when the consultation ends. Wherever you live in the UK do make sure your voice is heard

You can send a quick email to Defra, you can join us for the Submission Blitz on Tuesday 23rd at 6pm to copy out the consultation guide we’ve created, and particularly helpful would for you to spread the word, sharing our call to action on your social media accounts and further. 

The shocking state of our seed stock

That’s a tongue twister to get you going…

You may have noticed that we are giving away seeds..we decided that without our annual seed swap, we wanted to send out seeds to our members – some seeds are stock from last year (so may not germinate so well), others are this year’s stock, kindly provided by Franchi Seeds, and the rest, we have bought from the Real Seed Company.

We were able to offer our last years seeds to 70 people and within 3 days all of these seeds were spoken for. Luckily, due to Franchi’s generosity, we were able to re-open our offer and provide a more diverse set of seeds seeds to double the number of people!

If you signed up for seeds from us, we have ONE BIG REQUEST: let’s build food resilience by saving seeds this year. We are asking you to grow the small number of Real Seeds you receive from us with care and attention, look out for the strongest plant, and set it aside to save the seed and share it with all of us next year – can you do that? It would be a great thing to do, especially given we have a seed shortage in this country (thanks to Brexit). To get more information on your Real Seeds and how to seed save, visit their website.

Paolo Arrigo from Franchi tells us that he has not received a single delivery from Italy in 44 days. In his words “it’s a disaster”. You might like to read this article in which he is interviewed.

Find out more about how to save seed by watching our Lambeth Food Story: seed saving or contacting the London Freedom Seed Bank, Seed Sovereignty or watch the film Seed the Untold Story.

Lambeth Food Stories 5: MakeSoil – the case for community composting

We were so pleased to host this packed hour, hearing from people from around Lambeth and beyond about the possibilities for community composting. You can watch the hour-long session on our youtube channel here.

There was so much info raised but here are some of the things mentioned:

Patrick Holden mentioned

Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown

Do Grow: start with 10 simple vegetables by (his daughter!) Alice Holden

Growing a Revolution, Bringing Our Soil Back to Life by David Montgomery

Zach Bush is a medical doctor who has made connections between our health and our soils

State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity – an FAO report

Tom Daniells from the Compost Club mentioned

Elaine Ingham and her compost course

The composter that the Compost Club is using can be found here: https://www.joracomposters.com (Tom mentioned that they have a discount code)

Di mentioned the film Need to Grow

Another great film mentioned by a participant is Kiss the Ground

There was some interest in the compost bin design that the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership is using – IEL now has the pdf for this, so please get in touch with us for that information.

Lou (aka Rocky the Pug) from New York City has asked us to lobby to save the NY composting project – please show your support on Insta @saveourcompost or Twitter @saveNYCCompost. Lou also mentioned an Emerging Composter Competition which you can find here – you can vote for ‘Rocky the Pug’ here

and if you’re not yet composting: why not join a MakeSoil.org site? It’s free to sign up.

Planning your food growing

What will you choose to plant this year? Will it be whatever seed you can get hold of, something new, or something tried and tested? Have you saved seed or are you buying it? Or do you have any seed you’d like to share?

We’d love to know what you’re planning – is there one place you always go to for tips? Do you plan out your garden with a drawing? If so, what does that look like? Would you like to share? We’d love to hear from you!

On the seed front, we have been looking into buying seed and we are finding that the quality organic ‘real’ seed suppliers are already overwhelmed – Real Seeds re-opens for business on 25th January, as does Tamar Organics. The wonderful Bingenhaemar is closed to new business. Kings Seeds is also shut down temporarily (it stocks an organic range). Franchi Seeds, a family run seed business with a range of organic (but not open source*, we think) seems to be the only seed business that is trading right now! BUT – don’t worry, we have it covered with seeds that we can donate from last year (may not germinate quite so well) and another source we are working on..go HERE to register your interest in receiving a range of veg seed soon.

Lockdown reading and watching:

Have you seen Charles Dowding’s veg growing books? They are an invaluable resource.

We have been recommended Dirt to Soil: One family’s journey into regenerative agriculture by Gabe Brown

Have you listened to The Dirt podcast – an offshoot of Grow Your Own magazine.

Or have you watched the film Demain or Qu’est-ce qu’on attend? (What are we waiting for?) – both feature food growing in urban settings.

Photo: courtesy Hitherfield School

*Open Source seeds – go here to find out more about how seeds are bred today and why we should all be looking to either seed save or buy from open source suppliers. Find out about Seed Sovereignty

Grow Back Greener Estates

Last month, we announced that we’d been awarded funding. Here’s more news about the project:

We are working with six estates – Ethelred, Vauxhall Gardens, Holland Town, Myatts Fields South, St Martin’s and Central Hill.

Do you live on one of these estates and would like to get involved in greening your estate? If so, get in touch with Poppy today growingestates@incredibleediblelambeth.org

If not, but you would like to join (or form) a gardening group on your estate, why not get in touch with us too and you can join a growing number of people who want their land managed differently, growingestates@incredibleediblelambeth.org

We are very grateful to the Mayor of London’s fund

#GrowBackGreener

A 2020 round up

We thought we’d do a bit of a round up of the year, so you can see what we’ve been up to, so here goes – 

In the days before covid (remember them?), we hosted our annual seed swap at the Garden Museum, with over 50 people attending.

With the help of an initial crowdfund for a pilot and then London Funders Covid Emergency funding, we delivered a pack of 7 or 8 different veg seeds, compost and trays to 170 households throughout Lambeth. We believe (through testimonials) that the resulting seedlings reached a further 700 or so people across the borough. We’ve continued to supply veg seedlings through another wave of funding and are now working with a further 70 new growers. 

Through the platform of zoom, we have hosted five ‘Lambeth Food Stories’ (that have ranged from stories from amazing people distributing food during covid, to the biodiversity emergency – and what we can do about it, to hearing from this year’s food growers, to understanding why saving seed is so important, and finally, our Blooming Lambeth award winners gave us an insight into their gardening year, with an online event which 69 people attended).

With financial support from Lambeth Council, we have distributed 17 one tonne bags of compost to anyone who requested it. Also in partnership with the Council, we ran the ever popular Blooming Lambeth Awards last month, distributing prize money that amounted to £1950.  

All this has meant that our membership has grown by 200 to 490 individuals and from 72 to 103 group members. We really value our members and hope that you too are benefitting from being a part of this growing community. We have ambitious plans for 2021, which we hope you will be a part of, transforming our estates into places where food is grown, where nature will thrive and where communities come together to enjoy the green spaces on their doorstep.

Grow Back Greener on our estates!

We are SO excited to have been awarded funding by the Mayor of London’s Grow Back Greener fund! As one of only 34 projects in London, we plan to create spaces for nature and food growing on Lambeth housing estates. We will develop a template of engagement between housing officers, residents and grounds maintenance which will be a catalyst for transforming how housing land is managed across the borough.

This award enables six estates across the borough (four Council and two Housing Association) to develop their land with these three aims in mind: improve biodiversity, develop a food growing space and, as a result, help reduce climate change.

Our ambition is to bring housing officers, grounds maintenance contractors and residents together to develop a strategy that considers all three aims. We hope that by creating beautiful growing spaces, other residents will notice the difference, be inspired, start to ask questions and want to be involved in a new way of thinking about their community space.

If you’d like to get involved with this project, then read the job description here (this job has now been filled)

We are very grateful to the Mayor of London’s Fund

#GrowBackGreener