A new social enterprise is developing a growing pilot in Lambeth that has been inspired by Covid. The founders, Streatham based Stephen Vasconcellos and Aussie Lucan Creamer, were concerned by the disruption to supply chains that resulted in supermarket shelves being blitzed. They worried that the UK was only 50% food secure and had concerns about how our cities could feed themselves during another pandemic or a future climate shock.
The initiative is WeGrowFor.com and it is partnering with Incredible Edible Lambeth to get Lambeth growing even more food.
The simple idea is to create an Airbnb for unused garden spaces to get people growing. This meets an important need because:
- There are 206,000 allotments in the UK (woefully oversubscribed) with 6m people waiting for an allotment – some lists closed and others have a 25-40 years wait
- 7.4m gardens in the UK (1 in 4) are unloved and often overgrown and an embarrassment to their owners
- Large numbers of front gardens in cities are paved, impacting biodiversity
- Members of ethnic communities are up to four times less likely to have access to a garden than caucasians
- Covid times have seen a ten fold spike in growing
- In London, more than 2.3 million Londoners live below the poverty line and 33% of adults have skipped meals to save money so that their children can eat.
The WeGrowFor team is currently in discussions with Hubbub who had partnered with the GLA, Homebase, and Ikea (amongst other partners) to deliver 10,000 grow kits across London last year under the auspices of a campaign called “Give it a Grow”. Hubbub is also keen to be part of this pilot. Clearly, the need is greater than ever.
The WeGrowFor model is to encourage growers to adopt square foot gardening. Square foot gardening is an engineered gardening process using raised beds that are divided up into square feet sections, and organised with clear instructions about the numbers of veggies that can be planted in each section. The process is simple and no dig – and involves 2% of the effort of normal gardening and results in 5 times the produce. It’s highly efficient and easy to manage. The goal is to bring in external partners to help with some of the supplies and resources – as Hubbub did with its successful campaign last year.
The team envisages a community of thousands of budding gardeners (“growfors”) growing their own vegetables across Lambeth, utilising unused and unloved spaces, and growing to tackle food poverty, to increase health and wellbeing and reduce food miles.
WeGrowFor is also looking for Gardeners and for Landowners or people with unloved spaces.
WeGrowFor is working with a number of volunteers who will map out Lambeth’s growing potential and build out a database of unused garden space (front and back and with access), which could be an incredible resource for growing.
You can reach Stephen on firstname.lastname@example.org.