I spent a pleasant morning today down at Beckenham Place Park in the mansion house for the annual Parks and Open Spaces Conference, and the launch of the Council's new community gardens guide. (If you haven't ever been to Beckenham Place Park, it is well worth a visit, and a pleasant 25 minute cycle ride along the Waterlink Way).
The event was well attended by members of parks users groups and residents already involved in community garden schemes, such as Ruth from St Saviours in Crofton Park (as featured in this month's Lewisham Life!).
The Mayor in his speech to launch the guide recognised the value of community gardens for health and community cohesions, not to mention the potential to grow your own food. Then Seb from Capital Growth, the London-wide scheme to have 2012 new places to grow food in London by 2012 talked about some of the projects being set up across London, and the theoretical potential for London to grow up to 25% of its own food.
He also told a great story about a young boy at a community gardening event last Wednesday, who asked if the potato he planted would be ready for when he came back on Saturday. Seb said that the 'delayed reward' aspect to gardening was something many people weren't used to in these days of expecting everything to be instant. Personally, I don't mind waiting for things to grown in my garden, so long as ultimately I manage to pick them before the birds/squirrels/foxes or slugs and snails get to them!
He also flagged up that the next round of funding from Capital Growth kicks off next month, so if you are interested in setting up a project locally, take a look at their website as well as the Council's Community Gardens guide for further information.
On my travels around the ward, there are a number of patches of land that I often think would make great growing spaces, particularly on a couple of estates in the ward, and I've been following up with Council officers and Regenter B3 about a couple of plots, but I would welcome residents getting in touch with ideas for a project you'd like to take forward.