35 urban food gardens set to join London’s Big Dig day
On Saturday 22 April London’s community food gardens will be hosting a day of activities and giving people the chance to learn how to grow their own food. From planting seedlings to garden treasure hunts, there will be opportunities for all ages and abilities to get involved and meet their neighbours.
The Big Dig day is organised by Capital Growth, London’s largest food growing network, and helps people new to growing to get out and explore the wonderful world of urban gardening that can often remain hidden on rooftops or tucked away down back alleys. It’s also a chance for community gardeners to gather at the start of the season to get prepared for another year of growing together and to date has helped thousands of people connect with their local garden. From Hackney to Sydenham, Sutton to Tottenham, urban food gardens are looking for fresh faces to join the day’s activities.
“Taking place on Earth Day this year, we’re really excited to be running the sixth Big Dig day as we know how important it is for the gardens to get the season going and welcome new faces. If you’ve got a weathered green thumb, children who love exploring nature or an itch to grow your own, there is garden out there looking for your help,” says Maddie Guerlain, Project Coordinator of Capital Growth.
In central London, St Luke’s Community Centre will be planting over 100 native saplings to create a hedgerow of hazel, blackthorn, crab apple, dog rose, elder and wild cherry, all donated by the Woodland Trust. Head gardener Marco advises “Bring a pair of gloves if you can, and come to a great outdoor activity where everyone is welcome! Plus St Luke's has a fantastic cafe where you can have a healthy and tasty lunch after the hard work.”
In Camden, Cecil Sharp House Permaculture Garden will be hosting a permablitz, including a ‘Big Dig or No Dig’ workshop at 12:00 and an urban permaculture container gardening workshop at 3:00pm. Volunteers can also take part in planting unusual edible and decorative perennials in the forest garden or building a half-barrel pond.
In South London, volunteers can help build wildlife habitats, lend a hand with conservation work and learn about crop care, followed by a hearty homemade lunch at the De Frene Market Garden, part of Sydenham Garden.
The Big Dig is a part of Capital Growth’s initiative London Grows, which will help over 2,000 people get involved in community growing projects, wildlife-friendly food growing and improving London’s green environment.
To find a garden in your area, or to register your garden to take part in the day, visit our interactive map at www.bigdig.org.uk/london/
- Capital Growth is a network of over 2,000 food growing gardens and farms around London. Membership is free and available to anyone growing food in community projects, schools, allotments or at home. It is a London Food Link project, part of the charity Sustain. Capital Growth initiated the Big Dig day in London in 2012 and is supported by The Mayor of London and The City Bridge Trust. www.capitalgrowth.org
- London Grows is a Capital Growth initiative to support 2,000 Londoners to learn how to grow their own fruit and vegetables and increase wildlife in the city, funded by the City Bridge Trust. www.londongrows.org
- A full list of gardens can be found here and includes:
- In Waltham Forest, Church Lane Community Garden will be celebrating wildlife with an Untidy Your Garden workshop at 12:00pm where you can see examples of attractively untidy gardens, and join in making fat balls for birds to devour from coconut shells.
- Join Sutton Community Farm for planting out seedlings, seed sowing, potting up and helping with bed preparation. Volunteers will also get a tour of the site and regular tea/coffee/water breaks. Wellies, boots, gloves and tools will be provided. Please bring a packed lunch.
- The Regent’s Park Allotment Garden will be working with volunteers to upgrade their insect hotel, sow seeds, transplant seedlings, re-lay the paths and sort out the compost area.
- Living Under One Sun in Tottenham will have a variety of activities to get involved with, including planting out crops, turning compost and the all-important weeding. It's not all hard work though – there will also be fun family activities and games for all ages, plants for sale and a communal lunch.
- The Big Dig day, now in its sixth year, is also running in Durham this year, with partner organisation Food Durham. www.bigdig.org.uk
- Nationally, the Big Dig network is coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, which advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture, and promote equity. www.sustainweb.org
- Photos and interviews with volunteers and garden leaders are available on request.
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Capital Growth is a project of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.