Capital Growth pulls in 100,000 community gardeners


credit: Capital Growth

Almost 100,000 people have got involved in community gardening in London thanks to a ground-breaking project to promote local food-growing, a report launched today is to reveal.

The Capital Growth programme started in 2008 with a target to create 2,012 community growing spaces by the end of 2012 and in achieving this aim, has helped to turn the equivalent of 69 Wembley football pitches over to growing vegetables, according to the Growing Success report.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “Capital Growth has proven to be an astonishing success which has unlocked a primal love of gardening in city dwellers. The scheme has been especially successful not just in the leafy suburbs, but in the more deprived inner London areas where gardening has brought people into contact with neighbours often for the very first time.”

As a result of the programme’s achievements, including attracting 99,000 people to become community gardeners, Capital Growth is now calling for food growing areas to be provided in all public spaces, all new residential development and in all schools.

According to the report, the project has helped to green the environment and to turn many neglected spaces in the capital over to productive use with 66% of gardens being created on previously unused, derelict or inaccessible land.

“Our garden used to be a waste area fenced off from residents because it was unsafe and the area littered with drug paraphernalia including used needles. Our community turned this scarred little patch of ground into a flourishing food garden,” says Laura Buckley, Head Gardener at Cranbrook Community Garden in Tower Hamlets, Capital Growth space 68.

The gardens have also successfully brought together many different sections of communities and increased social ties. More than 60% of spaces involve people with disabilities, 60% work with people classed as not in employment, education or training, 82% involve people aged under 16 and 66% work with people aged over 60. Some 71% of people have made a new friend with someone in their neighbourhood as a result of getting involved.

Capital Growth, which is funded by the Mayor of London, the Social Action Fund and the Big Lottery, is now hoping the success of its programme will extend to towns and cities across the country through the Big Dig campaign.

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