Growing on – from Pop Farm to Caldwell Gardens

27 March 2017

Written by: Guest author: Bruno Lacey, Urban Growth

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Urban Growth are a Lambeth social enterprise improving the well-being of Londoners through providing Education, Employment & Environmental Transformation.

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Growing on – from Pop Farm to Caldwell Gardens

Urban Growth are a Community Interest Company based in the Impact Hub in Pop Brixton where, last year at Pop Farm, we grew over £500 worth of chemical-free food for the staff and volunteers.

We are a not-for-profit social enterprise which aims to improve people’s well being through connecting them with the natural world in the city. We use our commercial contracts, creating & maintaining gardens, to support community gardening and educational activities in them.

Growing the idea of a gardening career

We offer horticultural training programmes and everyone who works for Urban Growth has had that training. There’s still challenges to meet in people’s perception of gardening and horticulture as a career. It’s not a highly-paid sector, but we pay above London Living Wage, unlike most large landscaping companies, and we show people that this sort of work – outdoors in public spaces, learning about plants every day and contributing to communal spaces – is rewarding and sustainable employment accessible to all.

Chosen by Caldwell

Lambeth Council’s Estate Pride Team asked us to present ideas to create a garden space to the residents of Caldwell Gardens.

The space is currently all divided up by railings; we will remove those and recycling some into a pergola to support climbing plants. We will create over 50 square metres of growing space in raised beds constructed from timber sleepers. This will host a range of low-maintenance perennials to support biodiversity & provide year-round interest for residents. There will also be a space for an Edible Living food-growing project.

Transformation for spring

We very much hope that residents will join us planting in the first half of April.

We know there are talented gardeners there – someone is growing Echium, an amazing plant from the Canary Islands that attracts hundreds of pollinating insects – and we want them involved to show us how it’s done!

Getting into Lambeth food

The next step in our partnership with Lambeth is getting involved with the delivery of Edible Living food growing projects on estates. One of the things we want to add is measuring the financial value of the food communities are growing using Capital Growth’s Harvestometer




1 Thought on “Growing on – from Pop Farm to Caldwell Gardens

  1. John L says:

    A huge thank you to Urban Growth and ALL who designed and did the back breaking work on a very hot day to build the raised beds and put in the soil and design the planting for us to help plant up the new Caldwell Gardens garden. It is a great delight every time we look at it, and brings a smile to my face. I am the Echium grower you mention and although I dont get out too much because of disability, my partner does a lot in the garden and adores it and busily weeds and helps where she can. its a joy too, to get to know neighbours who we have always lived close to but hardly met – when they come to the garden. what a transformation on so many levels. We feel we are doing our bit to help pollinating insects who now come to the garden – several kinds of bees, and butterflies too. I hope that one day the birds will feel safe enough to use it too. The irrigation system is so helpful, and a must in such gardens where it literally bakes in the sunshine. PS The Echiums happily self seed if they like the place, and one day hopefully there will be more there, they turn concrete and brick and metal into living things and as you say the bees and others just love them – it has a long feeding season for them. If anyone wants seeds and have a sunny area to try them, by all means come and get some they are dying back and the seeds are ripening now. The seeds are tiny, the first year there will be a mass of vegetative growth and in the second year they will flower in the early summer and then set seed again. a wonderful plant and the parent plant was just a few streets away in Stockwell! They are really very easy to grow just sow the seed and the plant will do the rest!

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