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Free Tomato Give-Away to Get Growing

Bonnie Alter, London
Part of a photo by Bonnie Alter

The Mayor of London was in Trafalgar Square, giving away free tomato plants. There were 100,000 little seedlings in paper cups, available for the taking by anyone who wandered by.

It was all part of Capital Growth, a scheme to get Londoners growing fruits and vegetables. Their aim is to create 2012 new community food growing spaces across London by the end of 2012.

Capital Growth is a partnership initiative between London Food Link, the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund. It offers practical help, grants, training and support to groups wanting to establish community food growing projects as well as advice to landowners.

Capital Growth is working with four different communities on creating allotment gardens and community led food growing projects. They offer resources to the local communities so that they can develop their sites. All the projects are in very urban areas where land is at a premium and they are working with the local community in each case.

One scheme in east London has been at it for ten years. They run a local organic vegetable box scheme, farmers market and have organic market gardens.

Another group of volunteers in Regent’s Park have developed a garden from scratch, working with a horticultural school.

In the west, they have two sites with a farm and greenhouses. In the south they run the London Wildlife Trust where there are classrooms, meeting spaces and gardens where demonstrations are held.



COMMENT (Willem Van Cotthem)

Remarkable observation : in difficult periods of food insecurity for a significant part of their population, countries switch to allotments and community gardening in cities and villages. In World War One the “Victory Gardens” (allotments) were created. In World War Two that was done again in Europe and the USA. Nowadays urban gardening, guerilla gardening, vertical gardening, container gardening, etc. are real hits in developed countries. Aren’t these the best tools to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in developing countries too ? Ring the bell !

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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