From windswept balconies to the tiniest of backyards, a new generation of city-dwellers are growing their own vegetables wherever they can. Meg Carter digs in
Thursday, 17 April 2008
It all started with a failed attempt to secure a plot on a local allotment. “After four years, I was still only 22nd on the waiting list,” says Sebastian Mayfield, co-founder of Food Up Front. “So I began looking for an alternative closer to home. And then it dawned on me while lying in the bath one day, why don’t we make better use of the space we already have?”
Mayfield’s Eureka moment led him to petition a small group of locals living in the streets neighbouring his home in Balham, south London, to join him growing vegetables in front gardens or on their window sills, balconies and roofs. The idea was simple: by pooling resources and sharing expertise, participants could eat local by growing their own.
Twelve months on and Food Up Front is now signing up people for year two. It has a network of more than 30 street rep co-ordinators, and has attracted the interest of would-be urban farmers from neighbouring boroughs and beyond.
For a contribution of just £20 towards running costs, each will receive a starter pack including growing containers, locally-produced organic compost, a selection of seeds and a basic planting and harvesting guide.