Covid-19 and our gardening - please read

Growing together in Lambeth

With support from the London Community Foundation, we’ve spent the winter growing vegetables with an amazing community of 3,000 people across Lambeth.

Over 100 households, 8 schools, 20 community gardens and 4 Lambeth Estates braved the weather and got their hands dirty growing their own food, many for the first time. Almost everyone shared their seeds with friends, family and neighbours, and helped each other out along the way. 

Lots of growers told us the project helped them cope with lockdown: “Great to bring some life to the garden during lockdown”

We also caught up regularly with everyone in our community ‘Grow Together’ sessions. We’ve shared tips, tricks and stories of limp spinach and surprise success in equal measure: “Fantastic project, it has really helped with my mental health”

The connections made with each other has been the highlight of the project. Some amazing partners have also generously supported the project:

Alongside the growing, we’ve worked together with local groups to create five new walking trails on two new maps exploring Stockwell and West Norwood . The maps have allowed us to provide paid work for young local people, highlighted amazing community growing spots and taken people to green spaces they might never have known existed.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to grow, share and spread the word. 

What’s coming up? 

We want to work with more people to support community-led growing in Lambeth. If you have any ideas about how we could do this, we’d love to chat:

Our sponsor

Our partners

Lambeth food stories: whose space is it anyway?

Following on from the work we are doing on six housing estates in Lambeth (as part of the Mayor of London funded ‘Grow Back Greener‘ project), and work we are doing with Arup on mapping the borough (see Lambeth plots), we held this great zoom event, attended by almost 50 people. Watch it HERE

Here’s a list of the places represented by the attendees:

St Matthew’s Estate (Brixton)

Caldwell Estate

Hillside Gardens Park

Rosendale Estate

Central Hill Estate

Tabard Gardens

Walworth Community Garden (Southwark)


Lambeth Council

Cowley Estate

Open Orchard

Myatt’s Field South

St Martin’s Estate

Vauxhall Gardens Estate

Calais Gate and Coligny Court

Edmundsbury Estate

Oasis Waterloo

Goldsmith’s College

Food Ethics Council

Bernie Spain Community Garden

Seed Sovereignty/London Freedom Seed Bank

St Leonard’s Church and School, Streatham

Palace Road Estate


Friends of the Earth, Lambeth

Springfield Estate

Notes from the event:

You can find further information on our guest speaker Judy Ling Wong – here and her presentation will soon be able to be viewed separately to the full length zoom event (awaiting link).
Our Grow Back Greener Estates draft version of the Template of Engagement can be read here. Please send us comments about this template.

If you’ve identified some land you would like to grow food on (or create a garden to encourage biodiversity), why not get in touch today? questions

In the ‘Chat’ there was discussion about pesticide use on our streets – if you would like to opt out of the Council’s upcoming spraying regime, go here . If you live on an estate, you can ask for any neighbouring streets not to be sprayed. If you have not yet pledged to go pesticide-free, please go here today.

If you live or work in Lambeth and are not yet a member of IEL, please join our organisation today and strengthen our voice for more food growing in the borough.


Blooming Lambeth Awards 2021 is launched

It’s that time of year again! We are excited to announce the launch of the Blooming Lambeth Awards 2021 – a chance for every grower in the borough to win a cash prize and be recognised for their contribution to making Lambeth a better place to live.

The categories: we have eight categories this year, See below for a full description of each.

Judging and prizes: there will be cash prizes of £150 and £75 for winners and highly commended. Four of the categories will be people’s vote, whilst four categories will be voted by Lambeth food growers. Make sure you read the guidelines before applying. You can nominate yourself or someone you know or a garden you admire.

Each entry should be accompanied by ALL of the following information: 

  • your name and email address
  • the person or contact at the garden you’re nominating (if it’s not yourself), their email address
  • the address/location of the garden, school or where the person volunteers
  • a description of your nomination: min 50/max 200 words – make this as clear as you can – this is what we and the public will read and will help in judging.
  • your nomination’s social media accounts (if you/they have any): Twitter / Instagram / Flickr / FB page
  • photos: (min 3 / max 8) maximum size 2MB – make sure these photos are clear and really showcase the category you’re nominating. These are the photographs we will use to shortlist nominations and will determine which nominations are visited. For the People’s Vote – these are the photos the public will see to cast their vote.

Nitty gritty

  • you (or your nomination) must live or work in Lambeth 
  • you can nominate once in as many categories as you like
  • if you are shortlisted yours, or your nominee’s bank account details will be required. We make bank transfers not cash payments. Only nominees will get paid, not nominators.
  • by entering these awards, you agree to IEL using your images on our social media accounts and website. You agree to waive your copyright. (we will not sell your images for commercial purposes) If you are sending a photo with an image with a minor in it, you must either be their parent or custodian, and/or have their consent, for IEL to use it. Safeguarding is your responsibility here – do not submit any images of minors you do not want publicised.
  • and finally, it’s a given – in line with our ongoing campaign – no harmful pesticide or herbicide will have been used to aid growth of your plants. We also would love to hear that you have opted for peat free compost.

Why bother entering? There will be at least two prizes per category, with cash winnings of £75-£150 each and, as a winner, your garden will receive lots of publicity and a small framed certificate. Everyone is welcome to attend an events ceremony in October (we are not yet certain whether this will be in real life or online or both!).

The deadlines: the deadline for entering the awards is 30th June.

All IEL voting and visiting of the selected nominations will take place 5th-18th July, when photos will be taken.

Public voting starts July 14th. Cast your vote today!

The award ceremony will take place online on 18 November (7pm to 8pm).

Here are the categories for this year:

1. Most imaginative growing space in public view (a planter, a balcony, a hanging basket, an unusual container) – This category will be judged by a panel of Lambeth food growers

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

2.  Ivor Picardo Award for abundant growing of edibles, this could be in a public or private space. This category will be judged by a panel of Lambeth food growers

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

3. Best school garden – Is your school growing food? Does it have a programme to involve all children in outdoor learning? Has your school developed a wildflower area? Has it planted trees and shrubs to help create barriers against pollution? We want to hear about it! This category will be judged by a panel of Lambeth food growers

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

4. Most enthusiastic young gardener (under 18) – This could be a young person getting involved at home or in their neighbourhood or at their school. People’s vote

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

5. Best volunteer for a community growing space – Young or old, we know that there are so many people giving their time to make community gardens run smoothly and effectively. Now’s your chance to show how you value them and to say ‘Thank you’ to them. People’s vote

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

6. Best resident-led community garden – This category will be judged by a panel of Lambeth food growers

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

7. Best garden in bloom (public or private space but must have a public facing view – eg front garden, therapeutic garden, parklet) – People’s vote

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

8. Best space for encouraging biodiversity – for example: do the pollinators love your patch? or are you growing flowers that attract them? or do you have places for hedgehogs, beetles? or do you have a pond? People’s vote 

Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination.

Starting Seeds Indoors

It can be very helpful in our colder climate to get a jump on the growing season by starting our seeds indoors.

Seeds are amazing things. They don’t need much to get started. You will need some seed compost, containers, a bit of water and a good location in your home with bright, indirect light.

Seed Compost

Seeds come packed with all the nutrients they need to get themselves going, so we don’t need to start with a heavy, nutrient rich soil. In fact, doing so could actually ‘burn’ tender little seedlings. Our seeds will need compost that is light and easy for the new roots to form in and will retain moisture without being too soggy. The basic recipe is 3 parts: one part being a loam (soil) of some sort for nutrients and structure (if using your backyard soil, make sure to pasteurize it first), one part horticulture or builder’s sand to create looseness and drainage, and one part of well rotted leafmould, coconut choir, or heat-treated rice husks to help retain consistent moisture and provide even more spaces for roots to spread.

Whatever seed compost mixture you end up using, please make sure it is peat free. You can read more about the importance of peat to our environment in the Friends of the Earth’s guide: Why peat is good for the climate and nature.


I like to start my seeds off in recycled containers. The possibilities are endless for this, but the more popular options include newspaper pots, toilet paper roll pots, and egg cartons. Benedict Vanheems of Grow Veg has put together an excellent video on these options as well as a short note on how to plant your seeds in them: Seed Sowing Using Recycled Containers.


When planting your seeds you should make sure to add water to your seed compost before planting. The compost should be damp without being soggy with a consistency much like a damp sponge. After planting your seeds, make sure to keep the soil damp to help them germinate.


Lastly, find a location in your house that is bright with indirect sunlight. Make sure it is in a place where you will see your seeds often so you remember to water them!

Helpful Links

RHS Vegetable Seeds: Sowing
RHS Seed: sowing indoors
Grow Veg: How to Make the Best Potting Mix for Starting Seeds

Lambeth plots…mapping Lambeth’s food growing potential – it’s ready!

Our interactive map and app is now LIVE! Please test drive it over the coming week, then join us for a workshop next week to give us your feedback.

This piece of work is being undertaken in partnership with Arup – but we can’t do it without YOU…. Please read more about the project.


The trial of mapping existing and potential growing spaces through Arup’s interactive map has ended. Thank you to everyone for their contributions! Arup is now pulling together a report on the spaces found and we will make it available once it is ready.

But mapping our food growing potential is not over yet – and we still need your help! Find out how you can help here.

Grow Back Greener Estates launches its template of engagement

You may remember reading that IEL received funding from the Mayor of London to work across six estates to design and implement a ‘template of engagement’ for residents to support more food growing and biodiversity.

For the past couple of months, we have been working together with residents across six estates and have designed this template. It is still in draft form – we would welcome your feedback on this document, which we think is an exciting new and transformative way of considering land on our estates – it enables residents to engage more fully with their space, and hopefully will help to create lovely spaces that everyone wants to spend time in.


Make your community compost bin today!

Spurgeon Estate Secret Garden with their community compost bins

We’ve been encouraging people to create MakeSoil sites in their community for a couple of years now…Currently, there are eight sites in Lambeth – please consider becoming a makesoil site TODAY! Go to to find out how.

If we can show the Council that this scheme saves them (and ultimately us) money, then they might invest in community composting all over the borough. This is win win – better for the environment, better for our gardens!

If you would like to be sent a bin design, courtesy of Tim’s Bins at the Community Composting scheme in Brighton (a scheme funded by Brighton Council), please get in touch

Blooming Lambeth Awards 2021 and a chance to remember the 2020 winners..

It’s that time of year when we can almost get out and start growing…we would love you to start thinking about entering the Blooming Lambeth Awards 2021. Watch this space for more information!

Our virtual celebration last October was a great chance to celebrate all the growing around the borough – please do watch the video and remind yourselves of all the fabulous the winners. Our favourite quote of the night was “The ground’s the limit”.

This could be you in 2021!

We gave out eight Winner prizes (at £150) and 10 Highly Commended (at £75), with a further four for Outstanding Achievements. A full list of the winners are below and you can see a gallery of all the fabulous photos by clicking here.

The Ivor Picardo award for the most abundant veg patch

Winner: Alison Jones and the Southwell Road Community Garden

Highly commended: Inez Simms from the Edmundsbury Estate garden and Herald Douglas at Horle Walk

Against the Odds

Winner:Catherine Raitt and the Palace Road Estates Residents Association

Get Creative – Public Vote

Winner: Caldwell Estate

Highly Commended: Dave Sohanpal

Best School Garden – Public Vote

Winner: Sudbourne Primary School

Highly Commended: Hitherfield Primary School.

Most Imaginative Container – Public Vote

Winner: Edible Marsh’s Lower Marsh Market

Highly Commended: Coligny Court and Calais Gate

My Lockdown Garden

Winner: Miriam Thripp

Highly Commended – Natasha Lozada and her daughter Samy and Lambeth Towers Community Garden

Above and Beyond

Winners: Bobby Holder and Dawn Pusey from Loughborough Park, and Kathy Jones

Highly Commended: Larkhall Park, Lairdale Estate Community Garden and Rocio Ferro-Adams

Finally, we gave a huge cheer to four people for their Outstanding Achievement in 2020 – to Poppy George and her work at Rosendale Estate, to Fabrice Boltho for growing on thousands of seedlings at Myatt’s Fields Park, to Rob Finlay for his inspiring work on the pesticide campaign and to Chris Daniels for being the ‘best volunteer in the world’.

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

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

Sadly, Pam Warhurst was not able to be with us.

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.

Two other questions were asked outside the event, which we are posing to the Council – they are:

The question is in two parts around open space land designation and equality of access. 
a. What land use processes will the council ensure this mapping will contribute to for long term protection of new land for food growing?
b.  Will an equality impact assessment of open space, as Croydon Council has commissioned, be undertaken to understand who has access and use to open spaces?
Dr Bridget Snaith is part of the commission , who completed an EIA on Queen Elizabeth Park, the former Olympic Park. Presentation from Festival of Place 2020 : Green space or white space?


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.

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.”