Urban Gardening Inspiration

North Londoners Have Got It Going On!

During my recent blog surfing I came across the most extraordinary tale.  It started back in 2009 when Islington Council in North London offered free wildflower seeds to local residents for use in the ‘tree-pits’ on their streets, the little spaces of soil at the base of each tree squished in by the pavers around it.  Inspired by the free seeds and the concept of beautifying their little part of the world two neighbours, Naomi Schilinger and Nicolette Jones of Finsbury Park, joined forces to start something of a gardening revolution.

Planting tree-pits

Planting tree-pits

Together they created the ‘Veg Growing Project’, a community initiative that supplied materials, trained, and encouraged their own neighbours to grow vegetables, fruits and flowers in their front gardens.  But that’s not where they stopped!  Folk were encouraged to think creatively and maximise whatever space is available including spaces in the pavements, in the tree pits, and in window boxes.  Before long over one hundred households (100!) in the neighbourhood had joined together as a community to grow, to produce, and to beautify their area.  They have won awards and much acclaim for their initiative but best of all they have created a more tightly knit community.  From Naomi’s blog Out of My Shed:

Not only have our gardening activities greened up our streets, but by spending time in front gardens and organising ‘Cake Sunday’ get-togethers, neighbours have got to know one another, really building a great sense of community and belonging.

outofmyshed.co.uk/btg/

The grow pots here have corn, runner beans and squash all growing together.  Known as the 3 Sisters , growing the three crops together is a Iroquios tradition that seems to do well in North London too!

The grow pots here have corn, runner beans and squash all growing together. Known as the 3 Sisters, growing the three crops together is a Iroquios tradition that seems to do well in North London, too.

(Swoon!)  Who doesn’t love that?  Just amazing.  And so inspiring!  Their Cake Sundays sound amazing.  I wonder if my neighbours would join with me to do a Cake Sunday?  Sigh.  I miss that kind of neighbourly connection.

Don't they look divine?  I'm totally eyeing off those sweet little fairy cakes with the blueberry centers.

Don’t they look divine? I’m totally eyeing off those sweet little fairy cakes with the blueberry centers.

One of the other big deals (to me, anyway) is that now the program has been up and running for a while the organisers are able to collect seeds from their own plants, year over year, to give away for next year’s plantings.  So not only beautiful, productive and community enriching but self-sustaining and economical, too!

Gorgeous hollyhocks grown from seed collected the previous year.

Gorgeous hollyhocks grown from seed collected the previous year.

There is just so much fabulosity here I can’t stand it!  I’m totally looking up flights to London where I will track down the amazing Finbury Park neighbourhood and start door knocking until someone lets me in just so that I can bask in all their reflected awesomeness.  Yes, it is a little stalker-y and for that I apologise in advance.

To the good citizens of FInbury Park, North London I give you mad props and snaps!  You guys are amazing!

Does your community get together to eat cake and garden?  I’d love to hear about it if you do!  You can continue to follow this amazing story on Naomi’s blog Out Of My Shed.  They have also published a book, Veg Street Book, that cronicles their community gardening adventures.

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