On Saturday 19th of September Londoners were able to take part in the annual Edible Gardens Open Day, part of the Urban Food Fortnight celebration of local food and sustainability. This year visitors could wander through over 45 gardens all over London. At LCRN we thought, what better way to spend a Saturday, so we went out and visited a few gardens.
It was a beautiful warm and sunny autumn day so the setting couldn’t have been more perfect. The first garden we visited was Stepney City Farm, a working community farm offering a feel of the rural life to East Enders. Just like every Saturday, there was a farmers market offering reasonably priced local produce ranging from fresh meat to cakes and honey. The farm keeps many different animals including donkeys: the ‘oldest residing animals, they have been here since the 80s’ and ‘an ancient goat-like breed of sheep’ says Gordon, the Farm Assistant. With it’s allotment gardens, clubs, animals and the busy Café and Farm Shop offering delicious food and produce all of which is local and some of which has even been grown at Stepney City Farm, the farm offers a wide range activities for people of all ages. The farm is open Tuesday to Sunday and it is definitely worth a visit.
Our next destination was the Nomadic Community Gardens, currently residing in Shoreditch. This place was a little hard to find at first but it is definitely worth taking the time to look for it. The organisers have secured temporary permission from the owners of a soon to be construction site at the junction of two train tracks. The gardens offer food-growing spaces for residents and lots of room for artists and locals to express themselves and relax. One of the organisers says that ‘ It used to be a no go zone and people would take detours not to have to walk through here’. Pointing at the path bordering the gardens and serving as a shortcut for people to cross the train tracks, he points out ‘ now this path is in use again, people are not afraid to go here anymore and this whole area has turned into something positive.’ All the outside furniture and constructions are made from donated wood that would have otherwise been thrown away and are painted with left over paint from various providers. The garden spirit edgy while still very welcoming and we recommend spending a day picnicking, gardening or creating in this new hub.
And finally, Capital Growth in Regent’s Park. They have been taking the Edible Gardens Open Day very seriously for several years, organising special events and distributing free food to visitors and this year, they reckon, was their best one so far. They report being flooded with over 600 visitors from across London and overseas. For Capital Growth the Edible Garden Open Day is a chance to celebrate their Harvest Festival, and share with the public all the work that they have done and the tasty vegetables grown by offering free food, great produce and activities for children and grown ups. This year the organisers cooked mini pizzas in their cob oven: pumpkin-rosemary-mozzarella, the pesto-chard and pear-walnut-honey-blue cheese were on offer. All the combinations went down a storm and organisers were asked for recipes throughout the day. In addition to this there was a mix of tasty garden goodies for grab, with jams, pesto and piccalilli made by the garden volunteer and a selection of lavender bags, cordial and bath salts. Children could guess the weight of the heaviest pumpkin and get stuck in the garden hunt. Capital Growth is proud of the great visitor feedback that they have received, including a young mother who told them after bringing her two children on the day ‘you have certainly inspired me to give food growing a go and to cook more, thank you’. Encouraged by this year’s success Capital Growth is already planning their next year’s contribution to Edible Gardens Open Day.