FARMING LONDON!

Being across the Channel for some days, pill I can´t resist the temptation of looking around for some urban farming activity in London. My search is not in vain: Supermarket and university rooftops, building sites and derelict shops – London is using them for growing food!

On a boiling hot Friday afternoon, I end up on the roof of a supermarket in Crouch End, North London. Here I find a green oasis, where a large variety of vegetables and herbs is grown. The supermarket manager himself – Andrew Thornton – came up with the idea to start using the rooftop for growing food, and put the idea into practice a year ago with the help of Azul-Valérie Thome, the project coordinator. FOOD FROM THE SKY (www.foodfromthesky.org), as it is called, is community project growing food and offering education to schoolchildren and the local community. Reaching out to the community, raising awareness, and growing varieties that are not normally found in supermarkets anymore, are the main objectives of the project. Every Friday the rooftop produce is sold downstairs!

As I learn from Azul, this is not the only London rooftop used for growing food – the LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS (LSE), one of the city’s universities, is farming their roofs as well. And not only that, they turn out to have a groundbreaking policy on sustainability and a special department implementing it! Liane Fredericks, LSE’s sustainability officer, is willing to show me around the rooftop gardens of their school estates in the middle of the City, and explain me a bit more about the LSE sustainability policy. As we navigate our ways through buildings and staircases, I learn about waste management, rooftop fruit orchards and bee-keeping. Although the rooftop kitchen gardens seem in need of a bit of tlc at the moment, I’m very much inspired my the way this university is putting into practice what it preaches. Learn more at http://www2.lse.ac.uk/intranet/LSEServices/estatesDivision/sustainableLSE/home.aspx, or follow their rooftop gardens on http://twitter.com/#!/LSEGardens

From the LSE, I make my way to King’s Cross Station. On an enormous building site right behind the station, I’m kindly received by Paul Richens – gardener in the midst of urban renewal! On this building site, GLOBAL GENERATION, an organisation dedicated to giving young people opportunities to play a part in creating a sustainable future, was appointed three sites were they created different ‘portable allotments’. (www.globalgeneration.org.uk) Paul shows me around the Hoop Garden, composed of portable polytunnels (or hoops), where vegetables, fruit and herbs are grown and school kids being taught. And the produce? That is distributed to local restaurants by the kids by bike. This makes my urban farmer’s heart beat faster!

Energised by all these inspiring projects, I take my chance and hop on the tube for my final visit of the day –FARM:SHOP in London, Dalston. In a once derelict shop, Something & Son  designed  and built literally a farm in a shop. Veggies, mushrooms, fish, and even chickens on the roof – you name it, they grow it! And in desperate need of a proper cup of tea, I find myself here at the right place at the right time – they also run a small café, serving organic teas and coffees, and homemade cakes baked with eggs from the roof! Check them out at http://farmlondon.weebly.com/farmshop.html

By Anke de Vrieze, project assistant Farming the City at CITIES

Posted on 27 May 2011 and filed under Uncategorized

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