” The spirit of the Big Dig is what community gardening is all about “
Join Capital Growth and gardens across the capital to kick off the growing season on this annual volunteer open day. Every spring, hundreds of volunteers pull on their wellies and head outside to help community gardens get ready to grow.
In 2016, in London over 40 gardens took part, welcoming over 750 volunteers to help shovel compost, build trellises, plant seedlings and enjoy a hard day’s work in the company of friends and neighbours.
The Big Dig started as an event run by Capital Growth in 2012 to engage volunteers in their local food-growing space. It was initially funded as a nationwide project, managed by Sustain, recruiting 7,500 new volunteers to take part in community gardening.
Capital Growth have a packed line-up for Roots to Work – an annual conference for people interested in kick-starting or developing a food-growing enterprise or career, with workshops, speakers and networking opportunities.
The event also includes the launch of the Urban Farming Toolkit with our partners, Growing Communities, plus one-to-one advice, as well as our amazing panel of key speakers and a choice of four unique workshops to get you started, or alternatively, take you to the next level. Book NOW to guarantee your choice of workshop. Full line-up below.
Clare who joined Roots to Work 2016 and is currently training with OrganicLea said:
“the conference was so inspiring and useful that I ended up applying for a traineeship with the Castle Garden”
Speakers followed by panel Q&A
Lessons Learnt from Peri-Urban Farming. Alice Holden, Growing Communities- Author of ‘Do Grow’ and head farmer at Growing Communities Dagenham Farm
New approaches to developing livelihoods for Urban Farmers: Brian Kelly, Organiclea
Transitioning from volunteering to making a living: Sara Barnes – Growing Communities Patchwork Farmer and Organiclea trainee
Freelancing: Getting your own business growing. Hannah Schlotter of hannahgrows.com
Advanced growing to sell: An in-depth look at key crops, with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages they present. This workshop will also explore the topics of management, planning, productivity and value. Joris Gunawardena (Sutton Community Farm)
How to get your urban farm started (based on the Urban Farming Toolkit) – Sophie Verhagen, Head Grower Growing Communities Patchwork Farms
Growing the sector: how can we work together to address barriers for urban food growing enterprise. Nat Mady/Natalie Szarek – Community Food Growers Network (CFGN)
Diversifying income: Securing and diversifying income for community gardens: Julie Riehl – Capital Growth, Sustain
Plus Zooming in on the Future
Book a 15 minute 1:2:1 for advice on getting your career started from Amber Alferoff – Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens
Garden produce could be anything from fresh produce, like tomatoes, herb bunches or potatoes, to goods like jam, chutney, cordial, potted plants, seeds, baked goods, hanging baskets or fresh snacks. Everything you bring to sell should include produce from your school garden.
It’s completely free
There will be prizes for Best Dressed Stall, Most Innovative Product and People’s Choice.
A maximum of 5 attendees per school, including children and adults (pupils must be able to attend).
Join Food Growing Schools: London partner Capital Growth on Wednesday 5 July for their summer summit all about health, well-being and growing food in the city.
From mindfulness and garden design, to growing nutrient rich plants and therapeutic horticulture, the afternoon will include workshops and speakers on a variety of topics, plus time to enjoy the onsite permaculture garden and meet other attendees.
Once you’ve got your food growing underway, why not celebrate your efforts by finding out the value of all that you’ve grown?
Food Growing Schools: London partner Capital Growth have developed a simple tool to track what your school grows in kilograms and pounds. It also produces graphs, perfect for motivating volunteers and pupils, and showcasing your work to the school and parents!
During the first two seasons of the Harvest-ometer over 189 growing spaces grew enough food to contribute to a whopping 502,000 meals, weighing over 40 tonnes and valued at £288k. Capital Growth also found an estimated £2.4m of food is being grown each year across their network, which includes community growing spaces, as well as schools.
Salads, squash, courgettes and potatoes are the most popular crops being grown in London.
The average yield per Square metre is just less than £3.50 per square meter.
Create a ‘slug and snail hunt’ and re-locate the culprits outside your garden- at least a few 100 yards away. Check out Garden Organic’s information on how to prevent and remove slugs, along with fascinating facts. Who knew there are over 100 different species of slugs and snails in the UK!.
Scare away birds by hanging fabric or CDs near your plants – we’ve found some bird control methods here.
3. REPEL using natural methods
Garlic spray is great for all aphids (and safe to use, just watch your eyes) and easy to prepare; put one crushed garlic clove with the skin left on into 1 litre of boiling water. Cool and strain and you have a very effective spray.
Limit pest habitats like planks of wet wood on the ground which harbour slugs and snails and promote pests by offering them habitats. Have a hedgehog house, a bat and a bird box nearby, make solitary bee boxes and leave an untidy patch to attract more beneficial insects.
The Real Bread Campaign, run by our friends at Sustain, have teamed up with Grow Your Own Playground to guide schoolchildren across the capital on a year-long journey from seed to sandwich.
The hands-on project sees school food growing expert Cassie Liversidge visit each school to share with classes of up to 60 pupils the fact that Real Bread starts life in a field, not a factory.
During the exciting educational experience, pupils roll up their sleeves to plant wheat in winter or spring; nurture it until harvest time; then gather, thresh, winnow and mill the grain into flour. The culmination is a baking day, when each child makes a loaf to take home to share with their family.
The full programme has four stages:
Build: Construction of a solid wood planter that will last for years to come.
Sow: Children prepare the seed bed and plant the wheat seeds, learning how to care for it.
Grow and Harvest: Grow Your Own Playground makes two visits to check how the wheat is growing and harvest the crop in the late summer or early autumn.
Bake: A fun and informative Real Bread making day, when children get to mill their wheat and bake a loaf to take home.
Maria Lewington, headteacher at John Scurr Primary School said: “We so look forward to our Lessons in Loaf. The baking day is full of meaningful and collaborative learning. Every part of the curriculum is alive throughout the day and every child receives an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
The project partners, along with the Worshipful Company of Bakers, work to find an expert baker local to the school to join in with the baking day, allowing children to learn about the profession, and the school to build community business links.
The Real Bread Campaign would be keen to hear from anyone who can help fund their work on the project, or sponsor schools to participate.
London school teachers, governors and gardeners can express their interest in the project at:
Lessons in Loaf: London is a collaboration between the Real Bread Campaign (which launched Lessons in Loaf nationally in 2010 and Bake Your Lawn a year later) and Cassie Liversidge, who has been helping London schools to grow wheat to bake into bread since 2010 as part of Grow Your Own Playground. Cassie’s work on the project is sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Bakers.
The Real Bread Campaign is part of the food and farming charity Sustain, which also runs London Food Link and its Capital Growth network of community food growing spaces.
Lessons in Loaf is a trademark of Sustain.
Lessons In Loaf: London offers the choice of three packages, each for up to 60 pupils, tailored to a school’s specific needs:
Package 1: The full Build, Sow, Grow and harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. Cost: £2,254.99
Package 2: The Sow, Grow and Harvest, and Bake programme outlined above. (Suitable if the wheat can be planted into an existing bed with new compost added no planter building is required) Cost £2,040.00
Taster: If a school registers too late to plant the wheat, they can try the Bake day to whet their appetite and do the whole package the following academic year. Cost £1,020.00
Consultation: If there is any doubt that this project will be possible at a particular school, Grow Your Own Playground can offer a consultation visit. A professional gardener will visit your school, talk through the whole project and discuss the best location within the school grounds for the wheat to grow. Cost: £150.00
The Mayor of London opened the doors of City Hall to welcome six London schools to hold their very own Schools Marketplace on Thursday 14 July 2016. The event showcased delicious food grown in London’s schools – from salads, chards, rocket, beetroot, potatoes and herbs, to home made products such as plum jams and mango chutneys, tasty elderflower cordials, mint dips and more.
The Schools Marketplace event is part of the Growathon initiative, which aims to get 50,000 pupils involved in food growing by the end of the summer term, run by the FGSL.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited every stall and said:
“I’m really pleased to host the Schools Marketplace in City Hall. I want to help Londoners to have access to better food, and lead healthier lifestyles, so it’s great to see these young people growing their own grub and developing entrepreneurial skills.”
The Schools Marketplace was organised by FGSL and partner Capital Growth, who were delighted with the number of schools that took part in this and another initiatives as part of its Growathon campaign, which also included a film competition and other marketplace events across London.
Chair of the London Food Board, Rosie Boycott, said:
“These young people have shown that with some hard work and only a small amount of money you can create a wide range of food and drink using ingredients you have grown yourself. By starting young they’re laying the groundwork for a lifetime of enjoying their own produce.”
As well as produce stalls, an award ceremony for the Capital Growth “Showcase your Growing Competition” took place at 1.30pm. Judged by Chris Collins, best known as the former TV Blue Peter gardener, the winning schools (Selwyn Primary School – Newham, Glebe School – Bromley and Copenaghen Primary – Islington, were given prizes, including a great set of Bulldog Tools.
Former TV Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins, said:
“It’s brilliant to see schools getting involved in food growing and enjoying themselves whilst they’re at it. Not only are young people learning where our food comes from, they’re also getting healthy, gaining valuable skills and learning to be enterprising by selling their produce at Marketplace events like this one today!”
During the ceremony, the winners of Capital Growth’s ‘Harvest-ometer Challenge’ were also annouced. The challenge inspired and helped schools to grow and measure their harvest with an online tool that calcualtes the value of your harvest. Trafalgar Infant School, Richmond won the “Most food grown per Sqm” award; Charlton Manor Primary School, Greenwich, the “Biggest range of produce” title and Ambler Primary School, Islington, was nominated as “Growing School Hero”.
London schools can access free support, tips and materials by completing the Food Growing Schools: London survey
Every school that completes the survey will be entered into a draw to win some fantastic prizes, including a meal for two worth £50 at Wahaca, a visit from the highly skilled FGSL gardening team and freebies to support their school’s food growing activities.
Capital Growth newest city-wide garden open day is all about showcasing the many ways gardening can benefit our health and well-being, and to offer new opportunities and activities for volunteers to engage with community gardens.
Lots of great activities will be planned, including: meditation in the garden, growing and using medicinal herbs, garden tours and much more.
Capital Growth is looking for 20 gardens to take part by hosting activities or events for volunteers, families, newcomers or others, and we’ve got a bit of funding available to help make it happen. Some examples might include
cooking with garden harvests
yoga or meditation in the garden
how to grow medicinal herbs
shared community meals
special volunteer opportunities
anything else you can think up – we are open to any fresh, new ideas!