Urban gardening: how to go green in the city
Even the smallest of urban nooks and crannies can become a productive green patch
Gardening urbanites are greening our pleasant land. Tucked away in apartments, ecologically ambitious city gardeners are making the most of any space they have, even if it’s just a windowsill, balcony or piece of wall, and growing fresh produce.
Those interested in growing with organic and permacultural principles should consult a new book, Edible Cities – Urban Permaculture for Gardens, Yards, Balconies, Rooftops and Beyond, by Judith Anger, Immo Fiebrig and Martin Schnyder, and discover how people around the world are developing new growing opportunities and ingeniously turning them into reality, despite limited resources. The book inspires readers to spot wasted spaces in their cities and make intelligent use of them.
London is ahead of the game. Mayor Boris Johnson and the London Food Board have developed Capital Growth, London’s food-growing network, supporting those who grow food at home, on allotments or as part of a community group. It offers training or the opportunity to volunteer, and will pinpoint growing spaces in your area, with plots in schools, prisons, on roofs, in skips, on canal banks and in housing estates. Rosie Boycott, London’s food adviser, wants gardeners to face up to the challenge and show gardening is not just “a nice hobby” but can help increase the healthy food on Londoners’ plates.
Kensington and Chelsea has developed community kitchen gardens, transforming neglected spaces for residents, many of whom have never picked up a trowel before, and provided support in coordination with the environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London (london.groundwork.org.uk).
Inspiration and encouragement for all city gardeners come in spadefuls from Newcastle-based Mark Ridsdill Smith, who writes a wonderful blog packed full of pertinent information for those who grow without ground space. He offers the chance for solo gardeners to network through his Vertical Veg Club, invites them on courses (The Art of Growing in Small Spaces takes place mid-March, see verticalveg.org.uk; he is offering a couple of free online training sessions) and gives video demonstrations (this month: how to grow fruit trees in containers).