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A couple of sundays ago I took in a tour of London and it’s example growing projects. First stop: the Chelsea Fringe, which is an ‘alternative garden festival’ that took place from the 18th May till 9th June all around London. I took and afternoon to check out a couple of their events:

Growing Communities Open day

Up in Stoke Newington, Growing Communities (who have been running for around 10 years now) are doing all sorts in the land of growing. I started by spending a couple of hours volunteering with Sarah and her team at a new site that is soon to become the next growing space in their ‘patchwork farm‘ scheme.

The newest addition to the Growing Communities patchwork farm sites... well, once all the concrete is removed!

The newest addition to the Growing Communities patchwork farm sites… well, once all the concrete is removed!

Once we had run out of rubble sacks to pack the concrete into (phew!) I headed over to Clissold Park, where their original site was having an open day. With a polly tunnel and a number of raised beds on a rotation system, there wasn’t tonnes of space here but they had managed to fit a lot.

Welcome sign at Growing Communities site in Clissold Park

Welcome sign at Growing Communities site in Clissold Park

A map of the Growing Communities activities around Stoke Newington.

A map of the Growing Communities activities around Stoke Newington.

Fruit bushes and rhubarb growing down the side of the polly tunnel.There's also a small pond at the end of this fruit run to encourage beneficial wildlife into the site.

Fruit bushes and rhubarb growing down the side of the polly tunnel.There’s also a small pond at the end of this fruit run to encourage beneficial wildlife into the site.

The 5 raised beds that make up the majority of the outside growing space. Each bed has a sign to give information to visitors as to what has been planted here.

The 5 raised beds that make up the majority of the outside growing space. Each bed has a sign to give information to visitors as to what has been planted here.

I like the design of the raised beds in the pollytunnel and their use of recycled plastic bottles as mini cloches (I think they want to protect against slugs?).

I like the design of the raised beds in the pollytunnel and their use of recycled plastic bottles as mini cloches (I think they want to protect against slugs?).

Information about Growing Communities.

Information about Growing Communities.

GrowUp: Aquaponics in a container

Next stop was just by London Bridge station to see the GrowUp box built by Kate Hofman in a container ship container with a green house on top. Aquaponics is the process of growing food using the symbiotic relationship between fish and plants (the fish waste feeds the plants, and the plants filter the water for the fish) which produces both crops and fish as an end produce.

The GrowUp box with the Shard in the background. The fish are housed in tanks inside the container and the salad is grown in a greenhouse on top of the container, with the water system pumping the water from the fish up through the veg and back down again.

The GrowUp box with the Shard in the background. The fish are housed in tanks inside the container and the salad is grown in a greenhouse on top of the container, with the water system pumping the water from the fish up through the veg and back down again.

An example of how the salad is grown in vertical modules like this, which uses a recycled plastic wiry material to hold them in place and distribute the nutrients all around the roots.

An example of how the salad is grown in vertical modules like this, which uses a recycled plastic wiry material to hold them in place and distribute the nutrients all around the roots.

Information on the fish (apologies that I didn't pull back their cover for the photo, but they are white and red fish about 10cm long and apparently all male).

Information on the fish (apologies that I didn’t pull back their cover for the photo, but they are white and red fish about 10cm long and apparently all male).

Southbank Festival of Neighbourhood

These next to visits no longer part of the Chelsea Fringe festival but the Southbank Festival of Neighbourhood. The first is a green house space just infront of the footbridge to Embankment on the southbank side. It’s planted up with loads of herbs that have handy little tags that give flavour paring suggestions.

Herb greenhouse with the London Eye in the background.

Herb greenhouse with the London Eye in the background.

The herb greenhouse contains shelves of herbs contained in hessian sacks.

The herb greenhouse contains shelves of herbs contained in hessian sacks.

Labels made with laser cutting ply wood which contain flavour combinations for each herb.

Labels made with laser cutting ply wood which contain flavour combinations for each herb.

Queens Walk Gardens

I was excited to re-visit the Wayward Gardens project: ‘Queens Walk Gardens’, as I had previously volunteered for a day with them and wanted to see the finished piece! There’s a lot packed into the space they have down on the river bank, but it’s a lovely thing to walk around and through, looking at each plant family planted in each ‘room’. The windows and frames are lovely way to bring all the plants together through the theme of ‘the neighbourhood’.

Just before the Queens Walk Gardens site they have hung up some of the frames. I thought it made a good pic.

Just before the Queens Walk Gardens site they have hung up some of the frames. I thought it made a good pic.

An overview of the site. The rooms are hard to distinguish as they are quite close together.

An overview of the site. The rooms are hard to distinguish as they are quite close together.

An example sign they produced for each room to describe the plant family that room contained.

An example sign they produced for each room to describe the plant family that room contained.

How the planters work with the windows and frames.

How the planters work with the windows and frames.

Above the main planters are window boxes full of herbs.

Above the main planters are window boxes full of herbs.

On my way back to my bike, there were still yet more growing projects to discover in the form of large planters containing fruit trees and two giant statues…

Fruit trees in large containers.

Fruit trees in large containers.

The trees have messages on the side of their containers for the Londoners who walk past.

The trees have messages on the side of their containers for the Londoners who walk past.

Some of the trees had some flowers planted next to them.

Some of the trees had some flowers planted next to them.

Two giant statues which I think are supposed to be neighbours having a chat over their back fence.

Two giant statues which I think are supposed to be neighbours having a chat over their back fence.

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