London Councils and Food Growing

As London's food growing network, Capital Growth is committed to helping London’s 33 councils to promote and support food growing for their local residents. We want to spotlight councils taking leadership and inspire other local authorities to do more so that every Londoner has a chance to grow their own food, regardless of their location.

Streatham Community Garden. Photo credit: Zoe Warde-Aldam

Streatham Community Garden. Photo credit: Zoe Warde-Aldam

Read our briefing

As London's food growing network, Capital Growth is committed to helping London’s 33 councils to promote and support food growing for their local residents. We want to spotlight councils taking leadership and inspire other local authorities to do more so that every Londoner has a chance to grow their own food, regardless of their location.

Why should councils support food growing?

Supporting residents, community groups and organisations to access land for food growing has a number of key benefits across council objectives including:

  • Acess for residents to healthy, local food;
  • Healthy and active residents;
  • Resilient and mentally healthy communities;
  • Safer, cohesive communities;
  • Greener and environmentally sustainable communities.

How should councils support food growing?

In Sustain's latest report ‘Response, Resilience and Recovery: London’s Food Response to Covid-19’ we set out areas to assess how councils are supporting food growing - each with a number of potential actions. These include:

  • Capacity building and practical support for food growing;
  • Access to land and land use including supportive local planning policies; 
  • Partnerships and support for growing within other council plans and strategies.

Read on as we spotlight the five London councils that have demonstrated 'leadership' in food growing before and during the pandemic. Highlighted below are just a few of the actions these councils have taken but full case studies will be available soon.

Download our new briefing on Councils and Community Food Growing or watch our webinar

 

Greenwich Council

Strategy & Planning: The Royal Borough of Greenwich Parks, Estates and Open Spaces Allotments Action Plan (2019-2024) aims to support other existing community gardens. The Action Plan supports identification of new community growing areas within existing Parks, Estates and Open Spaces sites and other land owned by RBG. Support for community gardens food growing (including estate based food growing) is part of a food environments commission with GCDA (a local food-based social enterprise), under the banner of the Good Food in Greenwich (GFiG) partnership. Within the council’s Local Plan, community food growing is recognised as “important, not only in helping to provide people with healthy local food, but also because it involves exercise, fresh air and interaction with the natural environment which has proven to be positive for mental well-being.”  Food growing is referenced in the borough’s healthy weight and carbon neutral action plans and is overseen by the Healthy Weight Taskforce, ultimately accountable to the RBG Health and Wellbeing Board.

Food Growing Contact: Catherine.hannafin@royalgreenwich.gov.uk

Islington Council

Schools and Early Years: The council supports schools by providing training and networking opportunities as well as making sure schools are aware of grants they can access to support food growing such as from School Food Matters and the school meal provider. Their school meals contractor, Caterlink Ltd, provide grants to a number of schools each year to support school food gardens; as an added value services under the contract.  They have partnered with organisations such as Octopus Community Network and Community Hubs in the borough on the ‘Urban Wild Places’ initiative, establishing a community nursery.   

Food Growing Contact: Michelle.Webb@islington.gov.uk

Southwark Council 

Dedicated Officer Time: The newly appointed Community Gardening Coordinators will support community gardening and food growing across the borough. The Coordinators are creating a programme of support for community gardening, focusing on food growing on estates, helping and signposting residents to identify land that can be used for food, as well as supporting already-existing community gardens across Southwark. They are leading on a pilot project involving 7 housing estates, as part of the Great Estates programme, supporting residents to start gardening groups and develop food growing sites, and expanding their support in 2021 with the launch of the Allotment Expansion Guarantee.

Food Growing Contact: rosie.dalton-lucas@southwark.gov.uk

Tower Hamlets Council 

Partnership and Voluntary Sector Working: Tower Hamlets' Food Partnership lead organisation, the Women’s Environmental Network (Wen), ran a Keep Growing campaign, with over 700 people signed up to receive free growing packs, training videos and online events. They also connected community gardens and allotments with community food banks.  

The Food Partnership, which the council jointly founded and is an active member, includes the Tower Hamlets Food Growers network, which supports around 90 food growing spaces across the borough and has over 1,400 members.  

The Live Well courses on growing and cooking food for residents of the Burdett Estate started in October 2017 addressing the connection between food and mental health. The most recent course had to adapt due to Covid-19, and produced a series of low-cost health recipes, gardening videos and downloadable material. These resources were disseminated to the Tower Hamlets Food Growers network. East End Homes continued to support its multiple community gardens on patches of vacant land across its estates.  

There was a high profile orchard of 20 fruit trees planted in Victoria Park in March 2019 by Trees for Cities, working with the Victoria Park team. The trees were planted in a community planting day with 58 adults and 41 children.   

Food Growing Contact: natalie.lovell@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Waltham Forest Council 

Increasing Access to Land: The council has identified existing and potential new community food growing sites (mainly in parks and housing); and is busy contacting different users and stakeholder groups (consultation survey and workshops – December 2020).

The mapping and consultation process of land and assets to increase local food production will involve residents’ input, and propose, potential sites for development. The council actively encourages and enables the use of publicly owned land for community food growing and already has a high number of existing community food growing sites across the borough.  

Food Growing Contact: Mariela.Diaz-Tommasiello@walthamforest.gov.uk

Check out the full report: Reponse, Resilience and Recovery: London's Food Response to Covid-19

Capital Growth

Capital Growth is London's Food Growing Network, with over 2000 members. Whether you are growing at home, as part of an allotment, in a community group or school you can join for free to receive benefits such as discounts, advice and monthly enewsletters.

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