Castle House: how does your garden grow?
A new vegetable and herb garden helps residents in sheltered housing grow healthy food and a connected community.
Castle House residents decided to switch from a traditional flower garden to start an Edible Living food-growing scheme in their communal garden. It’s new, but quickly putting down roots. Moira from Castle House tells the story so far: “After Lambeth Council finished the upgrade works on Castle House, fitting new kitchens and bathrooms as part of the Lambeth Housing Standard, they replaced the garden where they’d been working and added raised beds. Then Urban Growth showed us how to change the mix to food and flowers and brought us plants and compost. They believe we’re the first sheltered housing scheme in Lambeth to do this.
Room to grow
“There wasn’t any room for the new plants at first but we’ve replanted hebes, lavenders and mahonia in other flowerbeds and plant pots and created space for beans, tomatoes and squash, beetroots and lettuce, cabbages and cucumber. Some residents have been inspired to grow veg on their balconies or chillis in pots by the front door.
“We’ve only been going three months but already things are really growing and people can help themselves to lettuce and herbs. They know it’s all for the community to share. It’s all very new to us, but we were encouraged to enter the ‘Blooming Lambeth’ awards and become part of Lambeth’s network of gardeners. Some of our gardeners don’t live here, they come in from neighbouring streets and estates – they know us from coming in for bingo. Some of our plants come from the GP food growing co-op opposite, and Urban Growth invited us to Myatt’s Fields Greenhouses.
“We haven’t planned far ahead yet. We haven’t made a start with growing fruit trees, but we’d love to make space in the other planter. We haven’t thought what to do if we grow more tomatoes than we can eat, but we love the idea of hosting a community meal. What we need most right now is some stakes for fast-growing plants and some strong younger people to help us dig – we’re going to ask for help.”
For more information
- Urban Growth Learning Gardens is a Brixton-based social enterprise that improves Londoners’ well-being by collaborating with them to create & maintain beautiful, biodiverse spaces. See their portfolio of projects and contact them
- For more information about Lambeth sheltered housing for over-55s see the council’s information pages