Community Gardening


How to Get a Community Garden Going

We have been working on this community growing guide for some time and it is finally finished. To those involved in its production, apologies for the delay, we have had difficulties with file formats. Many thanks to Chris Rodier for sorting this out for us. We recognize that some of the information will change from time to time, so if you find any errors or have anything to add, please email your comments to Thanks.


A Bit of Background to Brixton Growing

Guide to Food Growing Projects on Lambeth Estates – note this only relates to residents living on Lambeth Living or United Residents Housing estates Lambeth Food Growing Guidance


Landshare Landshare is to become a UK wide initiative to make British land more productive and fresh local produce more accessible to all.

Capital Growth The London wide campaign to offer practical and financial support to communities around London to help more people grow more food, and to have greater access to land and food growing spaces for community benefit. It can help pair growers with people who have land.

Garden Share The excellent Transition Town Totnes’ webpage on how they set up and run their Garden Share project, complete with document templates and advice.

Landfit A London initiative for bringing would-be gardeners together with gardens. You could call it garden sharing. Or open allotments. This project is inspired by America’s Sharing Backyards

  • Lambeth Council’s Guidelines (inc. Licence and Constitution) from groups wanting to start projects on Lambeth Living or URH estates.


Both Captial Growth and Lambeth Council are leaving soil testing to the discretion of the gardeners because it is an expensive procedure. There is nothing legally binding you to testing your soil, but it is still advised, especially if you are growing straight into the ground.

We are hoping that soil testing will become a lot easier in the near future. A standard common contaminants test of one sample might cost about £90 with a further £75 being charged for full explication and analysis of the findings. It is recommended that three samples should be taken from three separate points on a site – so if it’s done by the book it soon tots up! At this price it probably isn’t feasible for most projects, so discretion has to be exercised. In addition to this, standard tests often only look for regular contaminates and so desk studies are advisable to determine what activity has previously gone on on sites.

Cities are polluted places with long histories of industrial development, so most sites will have some degree of contamination, but it is only likely to be serious if there is a high level of heavy metals from some previous industrial process on the site; you can find out if your site might have previously been used for a contaminating activity by doing some research in the Minute Archives. If you are worried it may be contaminated you could start by taking a little soil from different parts of your site, mixing it up and having just one test done. If it comes back clean you can rock on, but unfortunately if it doesn’t you’d be silly to carry on without having more tests done on seperate soil samples from different areas to see which bit is off limits. That being said, the proportion of your diet which your own vegetables will comprise is likely to be quite small, so the risk of absorbing dangerous amounts of heavy metals from your plot produce is minimal. Also some plants are more likely to concentrate contaminates in their bodies than others and some can even be used to remove contaminates from the soil – but then you have to do something with them! no one want to think they are growing their veg in a heavy metal plot, but then again we probably wouldn’t want to eat most supermarket veg if we really new what they were sprayed with either!

If you are looking for a soil tester, Bailey’s Of Norfolk (Nigel Fahey, did the soil tests for the ABUNDANCE project. (any good? ask Sarah)

Even if you aren’t going to do a contaminates test on your soil it is still good to know what you are working with and you can test your soil in other ways. OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) have a section on soil and they are running a country wide survey of soil types and worms types or if it doesn’t work go to their website and search soil.

Most community growing projects we know seem to be making raised beds in some form or another and filling them with soil and compost from off site. This means that the ground itself doesn’t need soiling testing if the soil and compost come from certified sources.


Capital Growth has a few suggestions of places to get soil and compost, one of these is Rockinghams of Windmill Road, Croydon (, 020 86656789) who are able to supply a certified soil and compost mix at £45 per tonne inc. VAT and delivery. Please mention Capital Growth when placing an order. This is a very good price…


PAN/Garden Organic/Soil Assocaition/Gardeners World/Eat the Seasons all have info on what to grow and eat each month



Tree O’Clock

London Orchards Project. They offer great training for people wanting to plant and care for their own fruit trees and also have an apple juicer for hire at low rates. Contact Carina Dunkerley or Rowena

Local Apple varieties (Iain and Ida’s lists) Brogdale Common Ground

Trees For Cities/Groundworks funding for Mayors Tree Planting programme. Also money in COucnil for tree planting – Better Neighbourhoods.

Protecting Out Orchard Heritage: Sustain’s good practice guide for managing orchard projects from Abundance in Sheffield


London Bee Keepers Association – looking for hive sites on roof tops and in enclosed gardens. Contact

Check out Beehaus



City Leaf / 02074859262

Spahill Allotments

Spitalfields City Farm

Walworth Community Garden

Roots & Shoots

Bankside Open Spaces Trust

Capel Manor

Hadlow College

Garden Organic

London Permaculture Association (also active Permaculture Associationi Brighton)

Chelsea Physic Garden

Trees for cities – free courses for unemployed under 30s.

More localised projects include Hyde Farm CAN in Balham and Brixton Transition Town,

See also Royal Horticultural Society. – To establish environmental improvement projects and centres which offer a range of green skills training, environmental education and employment for local people, in deprived and disadvantaged inner city communities.


Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens

Sustain – Urban Agriculture Round Up

Capital Growth

Soil Association

Garden Organic


Lambeth Horticultural Society

South London Botalic Institute

London Orchards Project

Can We Dig It – Croydon


How you divide the produce depends on how your project is set up. Does every one have a plot and grow their own, or is it gardened communally or with children? You might want to consider having a communal feast, an honesty-box stall for surplus or finding an outlet locally for fruit and veg, jams and pickles.

As long as any money earned goes back into the project there shouldn’t be a problem. Organic Lea Community Growers have published an article about the legalities of selling allotment produce called Selling Allotment Produce: Is it Legal? Is it Right?.

If you have too much produce you might consider donating food to the Brockwell Park Midsummer Feast (mid June; contact: or the Tooting Foodival (end of Sept, contact: Or you could approach stall holders on Brixton Market, Brixton Wholefoods, The People’s Supermarket, chefs at the Bonnington Café, or see if TTB can help you shift some surplus through a stall on the Brixton Farmer’s Market.


Captial Growth have just set up a partnership with Tennyson Insurance to ensure their projects receive comprehensive public liability insurance cover at minimal expenditure. Tennyson Insurance are charity specialists who work with Zurich Insurance. There is a contact specifically dealing with these not-for-profit growing projects and those under Capital Growth receive a 20% discount and a guaranteed 48 hour turnaround, so cover is pretty much immediate. The contact is David Sincock (01243 832072 This deal is specifically for Capital Growth projects but as a rule of thumb it might be useful for you to know their rough costings:

£180.42 will cover community gardening activities for public liability for a year – i.e. all injuries resulting from possible negligence. It also includes, as part of the package, cover for contents (i.e. tools) that are used, but in the open or are being moved from place to place. Obviously it doesn’t cover their loss if they are left unsecured outside overnight etc. This does not include personal accident cover (injuries which are your own fault!) but this could be included for a further £53… Tennysons does not consider this to be essential for this sort of project.



Cowly Gate, Vassall Ward Caldwell Gardens, Vassall Ward Caleigh Gate, Vassall Ward

Raleigh Hall Garden

Tulse Hill Edible Estate

Loughborough Estate

Josephine Avenue

Caldwell Gardens

Lorn Road Allotments

Windmill Allotments, Lyham Road

Mencap Garden – Streatham

(See Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens)

Roots and Shoots is a charity providing vocational training for young people from the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. They have an amazing premises with greenhouse, garden, education facilities etc.

Vauxhall City Farm

Abundance Project on Guinness Trust Estate, Brixton (more allotment format) – Louise Jordan (

Streatham Community Garden –

07729214168 or Toni Ann Scott 07985 566753

Blenheim Gardens Edible Estate – Capital Growth funded; see Bonnie’s blog on Project Dirt charting the development ( (07816858053)

Susan Sheehan

Green Community Champions Officer

London Borough of Lambeth

phone: 020 7926 6210

Caldwell Gardens estate ward-purse funded project

Georgina Scheuller ( or

Eleanor Purser ( 07903 502 187

Cllr Bradley supporting

Housing contact – Stockwell & Vassall- Tim Fairhurst

TRA hotline on 07944 078125 or

Loughborough Junction Estate

 Loughborough EMB Ltd Featley Road SW9 7LJ – Eddie Greenslade x 68802 (v. helpful – recommended)

URH Housing 105 Angell Road SW9 7PD – Nilavra Mukerji, Chair

Startup projects

Some neighbours and I are talking about the possibility of turning a disused network rail site on our road (it’s over a railway track) into allotments or something similar. in Streatham

Nicola Burt

Finishing Touch Ltd

Interior Design & Decoration

Tel: 07766 133 727


I live on a small estate in oval – there’s a patch of waste land that was ear marked for an all weather football pitch but I have my eye on it for food. I did grow tomatoes on it one year but the “gardeners” cut them down. I have two neighbours who are very active food growers but I don’t think others are really into it. It just seems such a shame when there is the opportunity for cheap food.

Calais Gate,

Teri Bullen, Chair,, Tel: 020 7582 2616,

Zena Maddison, Sec 020 7582 2616

Caldwell Gardens TRA – ward purse funded

Tulse Hill???

Camberwell – Will Campbell-Clause

Windmill Allotments

Let’s Go, Let’s Grow, Noth Paddington, using builders bags Camley Street, Kings’ Cross, using builders bags Vacant Lot, What If? roject platning in builders bags Global Generation, planting in skips near St Pancras

Sustain and WEN’s Growing Round the Houses briefing paper This paper highlights a number of successful examples across London (pdf)

Growing Communities based in Hackney. Growing Communities wants to help other groups to follow in their footsteps (and adopt their ethical local ethos) to start their own local food supply projects. OrganicLea

Urban Farming project in Middlesborough

Growing Power in Chicago There are lots of really good short films on the web. Google ‘growing power YouTube’

A Canadian food project run by volunteers that grow food on roof top gardens and then convert the produce in to home made meals and deliver them round to elderly people on foot and bike.

Guide to Setting Up Your Own Edible Roof Top Garden published by Alternatives and Roof Top Garden project, Montreal

7 responses to “Community Gardening”

  1. [...] it if you could also let us know your local tips so w e can add them… go on, share! Go to: Who is it for? It’s for any one thinking about or already starting some sort of community growing [...]

  2. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  3. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

  4. Hey I was just looking at your site in Chrome and the graphic at the top of the link isnt show up correctly. Just thought I would let you know.

  5. Thanks for letting us know, Catina. I have checked in Chrome and for me it is just clipped a bit which is to do with the original being a pdf and this wordpress site isn’t able to treat that as an image, so we had to use pdf to image transformation.

  6. Whilst I truly like this post, I think there was an spelling error close to the finish of the third paragraph.

  7. Thanks, yes there is an odd series of mistakes. I will correct them. Cheers Mike

Analytics Plugin created by Web Hosting