An urban farming revolution has transformed a former car park in Brentford, West London
Observer Food Monthly Awards 2012 Best producer: Cultivate London
By Lucy Siegle
The Observer, Guardian
21 October 2012
Cultivate London is a social enterprise that gives equal billing to growing food and providing job opportunities for young west Londoners. It began in March 2011, with a £250,000 grant from Pathways, a not-for-profit organisation that backs projects which enrich local communities. Cultivate is becoming renowned for its variety of produce, from edible plants in pots to a sophisticated selection of salad leaves, including mizuna and red giant mustard. It helps that urban farming is becoming mainstream, and that they have a dedicated salesperson, but word of mouth has also been key.
And not just from customers of the farmers’ markets and delis that sell their produce. The most powerful advocates of all are Cultivate’s young trainees.
“I’m always looking for opportunities to get our produce sold somewhere,” says the 21-year-old Connor, who started here as a volunteer in March 2011, after the job centre had failed to yield much in the way of work. He is now growing full time. “I can’t stop going into restaurants and trying to persuade them to take our stuff. Generally it seems to work: they love the idea that we grow so locally.”