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Category — England

Bristol, England to provide urban farming inspiration as EU Green Capital

Steve Glover, pioneer of Bristol’s urban agriculture. Photograph by Elisabeth Braw.

Gearing up for its role as EU Green Capital 2015, Bristol’s agricultural scene is growing

By Elisabeth Braw
The Guardian
9 September 2014


Steve Glover doesn’t mind being called an unlikely pioneer of sustainable urban agriculture. A few years ago he didn’t even know how to grow organic vegetables, let alone on a deserted piece of land next to Bristol’s train station.

Today, Glover is supplying high-end local restaurants with vegetables and salads from his farm, the Severn Project. His staff, those that grow and pick the produce are recovering drug addicts.

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September 20, 2014   No Comments

Future Farmers: a guide to running an urban food growing traineeship


The sky’s the limit for London’s future farmers

By Sustain: The Alliance For Better Food And Farming
Sept. 2014

A new guide aimed at organisations hoping to train the next generation of urban farmers, is being launched today on a rooftop farm in central London. The document – titled Future Farmers; a guide for running an urban food growing traineeship – is being launched by the Mayor of London’s food advisor, Rosie Boycott, as part of Urban Food Fortnight, which will see London’s food growers selling produce at over 100 events and outlet.

Chair of London Food Board, Rosie Boycott, said: “Training and apprenticeships are key to making sure there are enough skilled people to start food growing enterprises and help to meet the demand for locally produced, great quality food that we see here in London. This new initiative provides a comprehensive and practical guide to help nurture the next generation of professional urban growers.”

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September 16, 2014   No Comments

Young citizen scientists reveal urban bee ‘surprise’

Dallas Campbell with survey participant. BBC presenter Dallas Campbell said children were “natural-born scientists”.

A patch of lavender in a city centre sees more bumblebees than a patch in the country, according to preliminary results from a citizen science project

By Jonathan Webb
BBC News
Sept 9, 2014


“Within cities, there are fewer floral resources,” said Dr Michael Pocock from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who led the analysis of the data with colleague Dr Helen Roy.

“And so one of the likely explanations is that there’s a concentration effect – the bumblebees in the area are concentrated on floral resources which are provided through pots of lavender and beds of lavender.”

That isn’t necessarily bad news, Dr Roy added, because it suggests that planting more flowers in cities will help boost bumblebee numbers.

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September 13, 2014   No Comments

Young volunteers ‘excluded’ from working at City Farm in London

kidsdisShola Fellows and Claudia Cruz at the Farm Family protest.

30 children and young people with disabilities looked after animals at Brooks Farm

By Natalie Glanvill
This is Local London
19th August 2014


A group of young volunteers, which has helped out at a city farm for 30 years, will not be allowed to work there after it changed hands, it has emerged.

The ‘Farm Family’, which includes about 30 children and young people with disabilities, or those at risk of getting involved in crime, looked after animals at Brooks Farm in Skeltons Lane Park, Leyton, when it was managed by Waltham Forest council.

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August 26, 2014   Comments Off

Create a world class urban agriculture hub on Bristol’s Blue Finger – Britain

Petition to Mayor of Bristol to Protect Bristol’s highly fertile food growing land from road building and other damaging development.

Petition by
The Blue Finger Alliance
August 2014


Any city that wishes to thrive in an unpredictable future must act now to upscale sustainable food production in ways that directly benefit the health and wellbeing, and the local economy of that city. We should not be endorsing a public transport system that undermines our ability to do this.

The area under threat is part of an area known as the Blue Finger (Grade 1 is coded blue on agricultural classification maps). Soil of this quality covers less than 3% of the UK and this is set to diminish as sea levels rise and extremes of climate increase.

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August 13, 2014   Comments Off

Report predicts value of London’s edible gardens at £1.4 million – and counting


“We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow…”

Capital Growth
A Sustain Publication
July 2014

London’s food growing gardens and urban farms are producing food worth at least £1.4 million per year, according to a new report published today by Capital Growth, London’s food growing network. Using data collected by a sample of 160 food growing spaces located in community gardens, schools, allotments, parks and farms across the capital, the report shows how veg patches all over London are putting fresh, seasonal and ultra-local food on thousands (and potentially millions) of plates.

The weights of community-grown fruit, vegetables, honey and eggs were recorded by members of the Capital Growth food growing network, which has over 2,000 registered spaces, many based in low-income areas of London. “We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow, and we have been able to use our innovative online Harvest-ometer tool to record the harvest of a wide range of different growing spaces,” explained Sarah Williams from Capital Growth. “The response has been extremely positive, with about one tenth of our member spaces clocking up over £150,000 of produce during the course of a year, and contributing portions of healthy fruit and veg to over a quarter-of-a-million meals”

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August 13, 2014   Comments Off

The Big Allotment Challenge: The Patch – Grow Make Eat


By Tessa Evelegh
Hodder & Stoughton
10 April 2014

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is surprisingly easy whatever the size of your garden or allotment. You don’t need to be entirely self-sufficient but there’s nothing more satisfying than being able to harvest your own tomatoes, snip a few leaves from a salad bed or make strawberry jam from home-grown strawberries. And by planting some easy-to-grow flowering plants it’s perfectly possible to have freshly picked cut flowers to decorate your table.

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July 9, 2014   Comments Off

Hampton Court Palace’s Kitchen Garden


The gardens produced horticultural baubles, edible novelties and actual food between 1702 and 1840

By Sandra Lawrence
June 12, 2014


King Hal’s jousting fields were ripped up and turned into six one-acre, up-to-the-minute kitchen gardens. They were given plenty of walls to provide warmth and shelter for tender new delicacies such as apricots and peaches, and plenty of room for Her Majesty’s every other veg-related whim.

Expensive luxuries like potatoes, tomatoes and runner beans. Tender peas, fresh from the pod, not the dried up pebbles that peasants ate. Asparagus, squashes, fancy salad. A lot of fancy salad.

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June 22, 2014   Comments Off

London’s growing heroes – urban farming in the city

People benefit from coming to the farm and slowing down a bit. Photo by Jonathan Cherry.

Grab a pitchfork and pitch in with your local community food growers

The Guardian
June 21, 2014


Jack Astbury leads Keats Community Organics, an organically certified urban farm on five disused acres in Welling, south-east London. It’s early days – the project was launched on Big Dig Day this March – but the current salad crop will soon be boosted by courgettes, French beans, runner beans, tomatoes and chillies, then kale and winter salads.

Jack is one of an expanding, and youthful, band of community food growers, whose former project, Food From the Sky, was an innovative garden on the roof of a Crouch End supermarket.

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June 21, 2014   Comments Off

A Conversation With Oscar Rodriguez On Urban Farming


Oscar Rodriguez, the founder of Architecture & Food, which is a company that works with organizations on building vertical farming.

By Emy Muzzi
Urban Times
June 4, 2014


Here’s a basic, ‘ridiculous’ calculation: London has 20,000 hectares (200,000,000 sqm) of roofscape, most of it pitched, and a population of 8.2 million people. By retrofitting horticultural greenhouses employing high productivity growing tech with a conservative 40kg/sqm/yr productivity onto half that area (10,000 hectares) you could produce enough to supply 1.3 kg of vegetables per person per day which is 380 percent of the average daily U.K. fruit and vegetable consumption of 350g.

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June 13, 2014   Comments Off

A Green and Pleasant Land: How England’s Gardeners Fought the Second World War


‘War is the normal occupation of man – war and gardening’ Winston Churchill

By Ursula Buchan
Windmill Books, part of Cornerstone Publishing

The wonderfully evocative story of how Britain’s World War Two gardeners – with great ingenuity, invincible good humour and extraordinary fortitude – dug for victory on home turf.

A Green and Pleasant Land tells the intriguing and inspiring story of how Britain’s wartime government encouraged and cajoled its citizens to grow their own fruit and vegetables. As the Second World War began in earnest and a whole nation listened to wireless broadcasts, dug holes for Anderson shelters, counted their coupons and made do and mended, so too were they instructed to ‘Dig for Victory’.

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May 19, 2014   Comments Off

Britain’s ‘Growing Together’ to unlock money, land and skills for gardeners


Useful information resources for community growing groups which will help them with income generation (crowdfunding and Digital Income Generation) and highlight innovative ways that more land can be made available for community growing through community share schemes and workplace allotment-gardens.

Excerpt from: Growing Together Resources Page “Briefing: Workplace Growing”

The workplace growing concept

Workplace growing encompasses a wide range of gardening activity on sites where people work. This could be private businesses with spare pieces of land available for growing, public spaces such as universities, hospitals, schools, or prisons or could belong to organisations like churches or village halls. These are places where volunteers, staff, patients, prisoners, parishioners, customers and students can come together and create a vibrant space to grow.

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April 28, 2014   Comments Off

Top 5 City Farms In London


A Taste Of The Country In The City

By Flora Tonking
Town Fish
Apr 5th 2013


Goats are pretty standard inhabitPig at the Kentish Town City Farmants of London’s city farms, as are sheep, cows and pigs; from the large pink variety to a rather fetching pair of small, curly-haired, marbled individuals, called Edward and Jenny, who live at Vauxhall City Farm. (Also at Vauxhall lives a rather incongruous alpaca, some distance from his Latin American roots.) Ponds are also popular city farmyard features, usually inhabited by ducks of different shapes and sizes, and maybe the odd goose. Chickens often ramble freely, either by design or on occasion when accidentally let loose by an over-excited young visitor.

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April 28, 2014   Comments Off

BBC2’s ‘The Big Allotment Challenge’

The great British rake off! Killer heels, yogic chanting, llama manure – they’re just some of the secret weapons rival gardeners resort to in BBC2’s Big Allotment Challenge

By Nicole Lampert
Daily Mail
4 April 2014


We’ve had The Great British Bake Off, now it’s what you might call The Great British Rake Off as a new BBC show pits more members of the public – this time gardeners – against each other in the hobby they love.

And The Big Allotment Challenge is not for the weak-willed, insist the competitors – there are plenty of tears among the tomatoes and turnips.

‘This is the tough end of reality television,’ says Edd Curbishley, a Northamptonshire sales manager who competes in the show in partnership with his yoga teacher wife Harshani.

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April 27, 2014   Comments Off

Jethro Tull’s most famous flautist swapped the excesses of life on the road for growing extremely hot chillies

Ian Anderson leaves his garden in Wiltshire to the pros, while he attends to his chillies.

Ian starts off his chillies in the swimming pool room, partly due to the conditions and partly because of the acoustics.

By Mark Diacono
The Telegraph
12 Apr 2014


“My chilli pepper adventures began with a salutary experience, courtesy of our Indian drummer, Ritchie Dharma, in 1967,” he says. “His mother cooked a powerful egg curry that sent me on the way to discovering the secret of the ‘hot’ behind hot curry.”

The natural chemical capsaicin is the villain, found in greatest concentration not in the seeds, but in the fleshy part of the chilli’s interior. It’s the active ingredient in pepper spray, used against bad guys, but Ian actually enjoys the effect:

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April 12, 2014   Comments Off