Covid-19 and our gardening - please read

Blooming Lambeth Awards 2020 launched!

We’ve launched BLA2020 today! The categories look quite different this year, but we hope you can still have fun and get creative with your nominations.

There will be prizes of £150 and £75 for winners and highly commended. Two of the categories will be Peoples’ Vote, whilst three are the directors’ vote. Make sure you read the guidelines carefully before applying.

Deadline for entries is 31/08/2020

Continue reading…

Covid-19 and our gardening

Many people are uncertain about whether they can visit their community garden. We want to say that if you are not shielding or vulnerable – YES YOU CAN – now more than ever, we need to grow food! We have compiled guidelines for visiting our community gardens from a variety of sources.

Food Growing for our Communities: as mentioned, now, more than ever, it is imperative that we grow our own food, to build resilience. If you have a balcony, windowsill or garden, do you think you could grow some veg from seed and share the seedlings with your neighbours? We know that most of you are amazing food growers and we empathise with your frustrations if you are not able to get to your community growing space; we need to find new ways to grow food. We are working out how we can supply you with the resources to grow food, without taking health risks; we want to distribute seeds, seedlings, trays and soil – read here to find out more; we are launching a pilot scheme at the end of this week.

In response to our current very difficult situation, we have postponed all our upcoming events – but we will be back with a bang when this is all over! We are obviously really disappointed that we have had to do this – sorry to the wonderful people who were hosting our events and sorry to you, our members.

We are however starting to set up some online training sessions – let us know what would be helpful by emailing us today

We have posted downloadable versions of our walks onto the website – please do print out and use them for your daily 30 minute exercise; our new Vauxhall map shows how many steps and Km the two routes are.

Blooming Lambeth Awards 2020 Finally, we have revised the categories for the Blooming Lambeth Awards 2020 to reflect our very different circumstances and are now accepting nominations. We welcome your creative response to these categories!

Building stronger communities – growing food for our neighbours

Many of you have asked how you might be able to support your communities in these uncertain times; we came up with a plan…

We thought we would encourage more people to grow veg. So we advertised the idea that we could supply a box with compost, seed trays and pots, and a selection of seeds; we had a flood of interest.

We undertook a risk assessment, minimised contact between people assembling and delivering the boxes, made sure that all plastic remained untouched for 72 hours, wore PPE at all times and, importantly, got the green light from Lambeth Council. We set up a Crowdfund to help us deliver the pilot and are very grateful to Engie and the amazing Paolo Arrigo (watch him on youtube) of Franchi Seeds of Italy for generous financial and material support.

Now we have an incredible 128 new households across the borough growing vegetables – many for the first time. But that’s just the start!

Continue reading…

Microbiome rewilding: biodiverse urban green spaces strengthen human immune systems (by University of Adelaide)

credit: Jacob Mills

A research team led by the University of Adelaide has found that revegetation of green spaces within cities can improve soil microbiota diversity towards a more natural, biodiverse state, which has been linked to human health benefits.

In the study, published in the journal Restoration Ecology, researchers compared the composition of a variety of urban green space vegetation types of varying levels of vegetation diversity, including lawns, vacant lots, parklands, revegetated woodlands and remnant woodlands within the City of Playford Council area in South Australia.

The purpose of the research was to understand whether it is possible to restore the microbiome of urban green spaces, a process known as microbiome rewilding. It is believed this process could expose us to a greater variety and number of microbiota (organisms living within a specific environment) and provide a form of immune system training and regulation.

Lead author of the journal paper, PhD student Jacob Mills from the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences and Environment Institute, says historically humans lived in more rural and wild landscapes, and children spent more of their childhood outdoors, allowing exposure to more microbes.

“Urbanisation has radically changed our childhoods. More time spent indoors, poor quality diets and less exposure to wild environments has led to significant increases in non-communicable diseases such as poorer respiratory health,” says Jacob.

children looking into tree canopy
Children exploring woodland at Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses

“Exposure to biodiverse natural environments carries ecological benefits—green spaces with higher eco-system function give children better exposure to pick things up from soil, for example, there are microbial compounds in soil that reduce stress and anxiety.

“Put simply, the more diversity in microbiota that children are exposed to, the healthier they will grow up,” he said.

The research found that the revegetated and remnant woodlands examined comprised more native plant species than other green spaces such as lawns and vacant lots, and had greater diversity of microbiota.

Furthermore the soil microbiotas in revegetated urban green spaces were similar to those found in remnant woodlands, and differed greatly from lawns and vacant lots, which had lower microbiota diversity.

“This indicates that the revegetated woodlands soil microbiome had somewhat recovered to its previous more natural biodiverse state,” says Jacob.

“Plant species richness, soil pH and electrical conductivity were the main variables for microbial communities in our study, the more diverse the soil biodiversity the better the eco-system function. Urban spaces low in microbial diversity tend to be more conducive to pathogens and pests, also known as microbial ‘weeds.'”

“Increasing plant species diversity is important for the structure of microbial communities and increases eco-system function,” he says.

Jacob says the findings of the study has implications for urban design, landscape architecture and councils.

“Our study provides a footing for urban planners and designers to place the environmental microbiome and access to diverse green spaces in their design principles when developing and rejuvenating urban areas.

“Greater biodiversity comes with the potential to reduce non-communicable disease rates through improved training of our immune systems to fight illness and disease.

“It could be implemented as a potential preventative health measure, particularly beneficial for lower socio-economic areas and could lessen the burden on our health systems.”

The study is believed to provide the first evidence that revegetation can improve urban soil microbiota diversity towards a more natural, biodiverse state by creating more wild habitat conditions. This evidence supports initiating further studies within the growing field of microbiome rewilding.

“We hope that this work will inspire further research to understand and measure the impact of microbiome rewilding on human health,” Jacob says.

Building stronger communities – growing for our neighbours, part 2

This page gives an idea of the breadth of ways we can all re-distribute our seedlings. Please get in touch if you have other ways of doing it:

If you have links with a school, find out all students registered for free school meals and share a message with the school that they can pass on to those families (leave veg at the school gate)

Find your nearest mutual aid group on WhatsApp and send a message there (if you don’t have access to this, we can help)

Find your nearest faith group – churches and mosques are a great network to tap into

Get in touch with your nearest childrens’ centre – they may not be open, but they will definitely be in contact with the more vulnerable families

Leave seedlings on your doorstep and invite neighbours to take a pot – maybe say something about how they reach people who wouldn’t normally grow food? There’s a downloadable print out for you here. Invite them to get in touch with us for support through email

If you live on an estate, talk with the TRA and see if they can help with distribution. Urban Growth is working on several estates across the borough and will be helping with this.

Perhaps your local GP surgery or pharmacy knows of vulnerable people who could do with some extra food.

If you have any other ideas – please let us know! And if you’d like to grow more seeds – late summer and autumn veg, please fill in the form below:

Community gardens in Stockwell partner with the NHS

Amazing things happen in times of crisis; we’ve seen extraordinary acts of kindness and selflessness by many people in our communities – not least, amongst our health workers. Incredible Edible Lambeth was therefore so pleased to be approached to work with Stockwell’s GP Wellbeing Team.

This week, one of our community gardens will be making up bundles from the garden to give to five GP practices as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our incredible local NHS staff.

The beautiful Landor Garden – a secret space tucked in behind Landor Road will be making this first offering. We hope that a partnership will evolve, linking green spaces with health centres, providing opportunities for GP’s (and pharmacists) to offer alternative places of sanctuary to their patients. We know that ill health can be a result of isolation and loneliness and that community and Nature, though never a cure-all, is so restorative.

We very much hope that this scheme can be replicated around Lambeth – get in touch if you’d like to find out more

Schools during lockdown

We were so sad not to launch our new film Growing Up in which we highlight the work of four amazing primary schools in Lambeth – do take a look, it will make you smile.

We realise that during this pandemic, many schools are staying open for the children of key workers. We want to support these schools through this period and encourage them to join our Growing for our Communities scheme. Some schools are looking to share seedlings with all their parents and kids during this time – is this something you’d like to do too? If so please get in touch with us and we can help you achieve something amazing!

Our friend and fellow IEL member, Seonaid from Sprout Up is creating simple How to Grow videos – she has just published her first one – follow her here. Seonaid works tirelessly with kids to promote food growing in schools.

Finally, if you’re reading this and are not yet a member of IEL, please consider joining today as a Group Member and join the other schools in Lambeth who are already IEL members.

Growing Up

Earlier this month, we had planned to launch this lovely short film about four amazing primary schools in Lambeth who are growing food. Our current crisis meant we were not able to meet together to celebrate (and encourage new food growers) but we thought you’d like to watch the film anyway, so here it is:

Growing Up, a film about four food growing schools in Lambeth (click the link ‘Growing Up’ to watch on YouTube)

child with microscope looking at insects outdoors

During lockdown, can I still go to my community garden or allotment?

Every community garden will need to do its own risk assessment as to how to manage its gardeners; we recognise that there are many vulnerable people who see their community garden as a life line, but we would advise that it is imperative that conversations are had to ascertain how safe it is for them to garden at this perilous time. It’s a balancing act, as mental health and well-being has never been more critical.

Recognising this, Lambeth Council is saying it’s OK to visit your community garden, so long as you follow certain guidelines (laid out below). Capital Growth has supplied helpful guidelines, as has the National Allotment Society . Here is why Sustain (Capital Growth) thinks it is imperative we keep our community gardens open.

Here are some guidelines gathered from various sources:

  • Do not visit your community garden or allotment if you or any member of your family are self-isolating.
  • Anyone considered medically vulnerable/subject to government shielding advice should not visit the growing space.
  • Avoid public transport to visit your garden; instead walk, run, cycle or drive to the allotment, either on your own or with one other member of your household.
  • Do not pick up anyone on the way and travel to the allotment with them. This is not allowed. If you bump into someone on the way then maintain safe social distancing protocols (stand two metres apart).
  • Do not allow your garden to be open to the public.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands after using the allotment gate. It would be helpful to others if you wiped down the gate, as well, if you can.
  • Don’t wash your hands in the communal water troughs.
  • Establish a rota for usage if plots are close together; garden leaders should publicise maximum number of visitors and display on an external board.
  • Don’t work on the allotment in groups of more than two. If you share the plot with someone from a different household then you must observe safe social distancing rules. Ideally, work out a timetable so you can visit the plot separately.
  • If you bump into people then maintain safe social distancing protocols at all times.
  • Don’t make anyone a cup of tea and close all communal amenities.
  • Don’t share tools.
  • Don’t visit the allotment shop.
  • Avoid taking your children to the plot if you possibly can. If you do take them, ensure they keep to your plot and avoid playing on communal areas.
  • If you take your dog with you, ensure it is kept on a lead, within the bounds of your own plot. If it wanders off and you need to retrieve it from communal areas this could place you and others at risk.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands thoroughly before and after eating food, and when you get home.

We will keep this updated as we hear more from the Government. In the meantime, you can read up-to-date news on Covid-19 here

We are consulting our group members and have compiled a response from them – if you would like to find out more about what other members are doing, or need some practical advice, please do get in touch.