Cites can play their part in food growing but how can you support the fight, when you’re staring out at concrete and shopping at Tesco. Here’s some ideas if you want to go further than a tomato pot on the balcony or simply don’t have the outdoor space and you want to get your hands in the soil.
Chip in at a Pocket Park
Back in 2015, London got 100 new pocket parks. Some of these might just be a bus stop and some might be now be looking a little neglected but then presumably no complaints if you were to stick your trowel in. Here’s a map of all the spots
Turn up and Dig
This is a national map with 100s of places across London with anything from pub gardens, allotments, schools, resident spots and community gardens and anything in between. This definitive map also shows the ones looking for volunteers. Here’s also a London focused one.
Here’s our pick of ones worth checking out –
Made in Dagenham, now farmed in Dagenham. You can get stuck in at this one and the produce goes into the veg box scheme. One weekly session
Omved Gardens: A place of many things with some impressive glasshouses. We’ve not been but it looks tranquil.
Sitopia – A decent 2 acre plot surrounded by green space and woods. This has a healthy onslaught of volunteers and you can put your name on the days you want to help. Started in 2021, it’s not been going long but they’ve made all the beds.
Farms that don’t use Soil
A lot can be said about whether Urban Farms really hold the future, and whether they can be viable enterprises but the technology is definitely moving in the right direction. These ones run tours or have something you might be able to go along to.
Growing Underground – They grow in disused air raid shelters under Clapham
Square Mile Farms – A network of farms in offices, supported by a host farm
Crate to Plate – Using shipping containers to grow inside and delivering within 24hrs of cropping.
Pubs that grow a bit of their own
In London these places are harder to find. They don’t seem to last long. Often a fortuitous attempt given their need to make precious use of every inch of space. The exclusive way to grow it, is within fridge like unit that glows red but where you’ve got a roof things get a bit more ambitious.
The Culpepper – They have a rooftop garden you can also sit up on which the chefs regularly crop from
Daylesford Brompton Cross – Not grown on site but they have a direct link to their own farm.
The Buxton – Just a few herbs but nothing wrong with that 😉
The Duke of Cambridge – Well known Riverford keep this kitchen well stocked
Support a Veg Box
You know the big ones but here are the ones that grow their boxes in London itself.
Growing Communities – In Hackney? This might be the one to get – Long-standing scheme they have a set of plots that all contribute to the weekly box and then source from outside the city for things like spuds, sprouts and squashes.
Local Greens – Maximum freshness, minimum freshness from this not-for-profit
Farmaround – The first one in London, they’ve had some customers for over 25 years. Try a one-off or regular box, delivered all over London and south-east.
Enfield Veg Co – Run by Forty Hall Farm. where you can also volunteer
Crop Drop – Haringey’s Local Veg Box Scheme
Join the Seed Saving Network. Be part of something without turning up for an induction, just sprinkle some seeds at home and see how you go. You get given seeds, the good open-pollinated sort and varieties more interesting than your average Thompson’s shelf rack. They’ll have some videos to help along the way and you can help the cause by passing back your successes and failures. There’s an annual cohort of growers which starts in late Spring.
Foraging inside the M25
A worldwide resource filled with back gardens, orchard, woodlands and hedgerows where you can grab yourself a plum or two. Zoom into to where you live and go and lighten Doris’s overhanging tree.
Supermarkets that grow food
The company Infarm started out at few years before us with a grow tray concept for microgreens, using Agar Agar like we do. Now they grow plants inside supermarkets, growing the seedlings on an industrial scale outside the city before bringing them in to finish growing.
Maximise the space you have
Mark managed to grow a lot without even touching the ground. He’s full of ideas for using what you can find or what you can make use of to start growing.
Wait for an Allotment
You might be waiting for awhile and move house by the time a spot comes up, but you never know, this page makes it looks quick and easy.
To grow indoors you tend to need lighting. Hydroponic kits have broadened their reach beyond illicit usage and you can buy a full system to grow a range of herbs and veg. It’s a bit of different headspace to being in the garden and means spending a bit to get step up but you won’t have to walk far to crop your greens and most of them are fairly automated. One thing you can grow without much set up or our grow lights in Microgreens which is something we post out ready growing in its grow tray.