Sunday, November 09, 2008

A plan we ought to emulate.

Energy Bulletin
4 November 2008)
original article:
Boris Johnson unveils plan to create 2,012 new vegetable gardens in London
Scheme aims to boost the amount of locally grown food in the capital
Hélène Mulholland , the Guardian

Londoners will be encouraged to turn flat roofs into vegetable plots as part of a scheme to grow food on 2012 patches of land across the capital by 2012, Boris Johnson said today.

The "Capital Growth" project is the first initiative delivered by Rosie Boycott since she was appointed chair of London Food by the London mayor over the summer.

The former newspaper editor wants councils, schools, hospitals, housing estates, and utility companies to identify derelict land that can be turned into vegetable gardens by green-fingered Londoners keen to grow their own spuds rather than buy transported produce from the supermarket.

Boycott also envisages that spare pieces of land can be found on canal banks, banks of reservoirs, and disused railway yards.

Boycott said: "London has a good deal of green spaces – some derelict or underused - but not being used as well as they could be. We also have a veritable host of enthusiastic gardeners who are well equipped to turning derelict or underused spaces into thriving oases offering healthy food and a fantastic focus for the community...

...Boycott said: "London has a good deal of green spaces – some derelict or underused - but not being used as well as they could be. We also have a veritable host of enthusiastic gardeners who are well equipped to turning derelict or underused spaces into thriving oases offering healthy food and a fantastic focus for the community...

...The London mayor wants to turn back the tide to promote locally grown food in the face of rising food prices and the challenge to protect the environment.

Londoners will receive both financial and practical support to grow their own, such as gardening tools and compost.

Launching the project at a vegetable and herb garden run by a charity for disabled people in Battersea Park, Johnson said: "Linking up currently unloved patches of land with people who want to discover the wonders of growing their own food, delivers massive benefits. It will help to make London a greener, more pleasant place to live while providing healthy and affordable food.


As I have mentioned before, we also have a great deal of area that could be used for victory gardens: front and back lawns, small decorative flower beds that could be converted to vegetables, balconies with containers, window boxes outside, and indoor window tables with potted herbs, spices, pepper plants and other vegetables - as well as some flat roofs on tops of businesses, if not homes. There's nothing stopping us from doing this except our own laziness and dis-interest in food self-sufficiency. For two-income households, a teenager at home or a neighbor's teen or stay-at-home elder could be hired to check the garden plots, weed and water as necessary, enhancing employment for the community. The produce can be canned and preserved at home or sold in community farmer's markets once or twice a week. A charity could grow or buy the produce to give fresh produce baskets to the elderly and sick. There are infinite ways such a program could benefit everyone.

Now would be the time to begin recruiting participants and helping with laying out the design for participating lawns and community garden areas, installing raised garden beds, strategically placing pots and containers, and rehabilitating flat rooftops. Each area to be utilized should be evaluated for sun vs. shade, water runoff, etc., to decide which crops can be rotated in that location. Rain barrels and other grey water systems can be planned. Fruit and nut trees can be planted in appropriate areas if the Fall weather is mild, or early in the Spring. An area for gathering garden weeds, harvest stalks and vines,cut grass, egg shells, vegetable scraps from cooking and vegetable table scraps can be collected and designated for a community compost project - even worm farms started.

All this should be planned out now, while the weather is cool and throughout the winter, so everything is ready to go when the planting season begins. No interest community loan societies could help with this project, too. It might take a year or two to get the kinks out of the system, so to speak, to figure out what grows best where, and so on, but that's to be expected. This is the type of long-term project that we are not used to doing anymore, but something we need to get back into the swing of and re-learn. Instant gratification has been the curse of Western Society - a garden requires patience and is the perfect way to learn it.

Not to mention all those nice, freshly picked, chemical free, nutritious locally grown herbs and veggies - they're better for you, and worth the wait.

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