Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham

Capital Growth’s £35,000 boost to get Londoners growing food

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The Mayor is calling for more green-fingered volunteers to step up and join Capital Growth by bidding for a share of £35,000 now available to budding community food gardening groups.

In this latest round of money available through Capital Growth, any community group with a plot of land ready to grow on, can apply for up to £750 to help them get growing. The Mayor launched Capital Growth in 2008 with the charity London Food Link to help green the city, boost volunteering and improve quality of life. The Mayor sees Capital Growth as a key part of his Team London initiative to encourage Londoner’s to get out and get engaged with volunteering in their communities. Capital Growth to date has already engaged 35,000 people in community food growing projects in London making it the biggest contributor to the Mayor’s Team London programme.

Capital Growth provides a practical response to the rising interest in ‘grow your own’ and to the fact that lengthening waiting lists for allotments that can be decades long. Any Londoner keen to volunteer with other members of their community to cultivate a thriving food garden are eligible to apply for a grant until the closing date of November 7th this year. There are now more than 1300 Capital Growth projects running involving more than 35,000 people, most of whom are volunteering.

Previous grant rounds to date have offered financial help to 559 projects to get started. Recipients will generally use their money to pay for equipment such as tools, soil, compost, and wood for raised beds. Those interested in benefiting from future funding rounds should register with Capital Growth to ensure they don’t miss out.

This grant round comes as a new and independent report by City and Guilds has found that community food growing projects can play an important role in helping to improve people’s work skills and employability as well as gain confidence. The report used several Capital Growth projects as well as other community food gardens to underpin its findings.

The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said: ‘Volunteering to improve your local environment is not only great fun and a cheap source of healthy food, but an important way for some people to gain valuable skills. Capital Growth has been a fantastic success in helping bring green fingered Londoners together and I hope this latest cash incentive will get even more people to sign up and join my Team London army.’

Paola Guzman from Sustain the organisation that manage Capital Growth, commented: “Over the last 3 years of the campaign, we have seen the huge benefits that food growing can bring to communities.  More than 1,300 communities across London are now receiving support from Capital Growth. In these difficult economic times, we know that communities need extra support, so we hope these grants will be able to help. ”

A previous recipient of a Capital Growth grant is Cranbrook Community Food Garden in Tower Hamlets. A disused piece of land in the Cranbrook Estate was converted in 2009 into a beautiful food-growing garden. A grant of £750 allowed the group of residents to purchase soil and seeds and other materials necessary to start. The garden generated so much attention that the local council took notice and awarded them further funding. Cranbrook Community Food Garden has been a catalyst for wider community engagement in the estate and is the space where neighbours share experiences and food.

Janet Burns who currently manages the Cranbrook site said, “Since I started coming to the garden I feel like a part of my local community. I have met more neighbours and share a cuppa with them. This garden is a wonderful place where all my neighbours have worked really hard.”

Capital Growth has seen a wide range of community groups applying for the grants programme in the past such as doctor surgeries, universities, businesses, shelter housing projects, tenants and residents associations, faith and cultural groups and many more. Partner organisations include 18 borough councils, ten housing associations, Transport for London and British Waterways. Capital Growth also runs competitions to get schools and housing estates growing.

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