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Category — England

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

A Little Piece of England – A Tale of Self-sufficiency – 35th Anniversary Edition


Why self-sufficiency now is as important as ever

A Little Piece of England
By John Jackson
Published by JJ Books
New hardback edition 2014
232 pages

Excerpt from the author’s blog post 14th March 2014:

It is with great pleasure that I look forward to the publication of JJ Books’ newest book – the hardback edition of ‘A Little Piece of England’.

It is thirty-five years since the book was first published as ‘A Bucket of Nuts and a Herring Net’, and even longer since I wrote it. I can still very clearly remember writing the book – something that I did in the winter of 1977 – mainly at the kitchen table when everyone else was in bed and the house was quiet, between midnight and two in the morning.

I and my family had found it immensely exciting and rewarding to work on developing our own smallholding, and the project took us further than any of us had anticipated. We learned a huge amount from it, and it has turned out to have had a lasting effect on all of us. I wanted to keep a record of the experiences our family shared – and I am very glad that I did.

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April 10, 2014   Comments Off

The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing


This study reviews current literature and highlights compelling case for commissioning of food growing by health service, with foreward by Professor Tim Lang.

By Garden Organic and Sustain
Gareth Davies, Maria Devereaux, Margi Lennartsson, Ulrich Schmutz, Sarah Williams
April 2014

Excerpt from Forward:

We can all benefit from gardening and community food-growing projects. It is widely recognised that regular contact with plants, animals and the natural environment can improve our physical health and mental well-being. When we grow food and flowers, we are engaging with the natural world at a pace that provides a welcome antidote to the stresses of modern life.

For the large number of people in our society – children and adults – who live with challenging physical or mental health problems, gardening and community food growing can be especially beneficial.

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April 1, 2014   Comments Off

Edible Perennial Gardening: Growing Successful Polycultures in Small Spaces


By Anni Kelsey
Permanent Publications
April 15, 2014

Excerpt from review by Rory Prendergast in Permaculture UK:

Anni Kelsey’s first book Edible Perennial Gardening is receiving great reviews from some eminent people such as permaculture author, Patrick Whitefield, Agroforestry Research Trust founder, Martin Crawford and the edible forest gardener, Eric Toensmeier. Their feedback is in advance of the book’s launch at the Edible Garden Show (28th-30th March) in London where the author will be speaking. The book details the many ways to grow perennials in low-maintenance polycultures, an ideal method for small urban or rural gardeners to grow year round delicious, unusual edibles that look beautiful too.

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April 1, 2014   Comments Off

1736: Unearthing the History of Sheffield’s Allotments

Ralph Gosling’s Plan of Sheffield in the year 1736. See larger image here.

Gardeners professions: Button makers, Shoe makers, Cutlers, Bakers, Innkeepers, Widows, Clerk, Grocer, Schoolmaster, Husbandman, Gardener

Jane Withers, Adam J Smith
Furnace Park
Mar 17, 2014


As shown in the above map (the Cathedral is circled in red), urban gardens dominated Sheffield city centre (seen by the yellow arrows radiating from the Cathedral). Although the gardens illustrated in 1736 cannot be proved as allotments (very little documentation survives alluding to the use of these plots) it was thought that the total number of gardens shown could be in excess of 200.

These plots were popular with craftsmen of the time, whose green fingers itched with creativity and cultivation. The popularity of the city centre escapes grew, and by 1780, Flavell claims that there is evidence of between 1500 and 1800 allotments being leased within the city boundaries of Sheffield (see the ‘Further Reading’ section at the end of this post). This expansion could be accredited to the discovery of a more efficient crucible method for producing steel, thoroughly placing Sheffield on the industrial map and causing a need for an alternative past time, away from the grime and smoke of the industrial sites.

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March 27, 2014   Comments Off

London Primary School Expands Community Garden Project

Charlton Manor Primary School.

It will allow parents/carers to take their children to the farm and have access to a healthy meal with produce grown by school children.

Tim Baker, head master of local primary school, Charlton Manor, envisaged the concept of a community area for growing and cooking food at nearby Woodlands Farm. Tim is a pioneer when it comes to growing and eating healthy food in schools and his own school is an example to all schools on how to implement a seed to plate strategy. It is natural that he seeks to take this outlook out into the further community.

Woodlands Farm Trust

At Charlton Manor we have signed up with the Woodlands Farm Trust. We have our own allotment there that we are currently working on and the children visit regularly to work on the plot. The children can visit the animals and help out by looking after them.

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March 27, 2014   Comments Off

The Gardens of the British Working Class


The imperatives of the ordinary gardener long ago were to produce food and grow herbs for medicinal purposes.

By Margaret Willes
Yale University Press
March 2014

This magnificently illustrated people’s history celebrates the extraordinary feats of cultivation by the working class in Britain, even if the land they toiled, planted, and loved was not their own. Spanning more than four centuries, from the earliest records of the laboring classes in the country to today, Margaret Willes’s research unearths lush gardens nurtured outside rough workers’ cottages and horticultural miracles performed in blackened yards, and reveals the ingenious, sometimes devious, methods employed by determined, obsessive, and eccentric workers to make their drab surroundings bloom.

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March 17, 2014   Comments Off