Lambeth Poly – launching next week!

We are very excited about the construction on Tulse Hill Estate on Thursday 5th July of the first (of many, we hope) of Lambeth Poly’s polytunnels. Veolia have generously donated the tunnel and associated materials, and Ben with apprentice team from Cultivate and other volunteers will construct it. Thanks to permission from Tulse Hill Estate TRA and Lambeth Living, the tunnel will go up on a central piece of land close to the housing office – one of the few flat sites available on the estate!  Fiona Law, project coordinator, will be installing the inside of the tunnel on Friday 6th and an ‘open house’ with seed sowing workshops for residents will be held at the Estate’s Action Day on Saturday 7th July. This is just the beginning of much fruitful (vegful?) activity.

Purpose of the project Lambeth Poly
The mission of Lambeth Poly is to provide job training in commercial veg growing for Lambeth residents.  The project will grow veg to sell locally, involving the trainees in running a business and providing a small income stream for the project. Each site will recruit trainees from the immediate surroundings, thus visibly benefiting that community, while increasing community cohesion. Exposure to veg growing will also positively affect mental wellbeing and healthy eating. And local growing helps Lambeth reduce its carbon footprint, improve food resilience, reskill in growing techniques, and model sustainable practices.

Minimum measurable outcomes within the 90 days of the ‘prototype’ on Tulse Hill Estate
(the beginning of the project, not its entire lifecycle):

  • successful crops sold on – on establishment, weekly salad and stir-fry leaves and one batch of culinary herbs in 9cm pots to veg bag scheme Local Greens (order confirmed). Leaves and herbs also to residents, local caterers, and to be used on the BBQ Employment Bike project and with the Jubilee Hall project coordinated by resident Michelle Martin. Potted herbs possibly at the Lambeth Show too.
  • 2 workshops for residents to engage support for the project
  • liaison with fellow Tulse Hill Coop projects (employment bike, soft skills at High Trees, resident skills mapping) and other partners to recruit (5?) trainees (and scope how that recruitment might be funded in future)
  • 3 growing training sessions (not accredited at this point)
  • recruitment and training of a team of 3 (?) volunteers to co-manage the tunnel (possibly leading to long-term employment)
  • a manual describing how to replicate the build and horticulture of the project
  • a document scoping community replication and formal training possibilities, to include research to identify other partners within the borough and outside, and future funding for this type of training
  • engagement with 3+ Lambeth Poly ambassadors/champions from the Estate

How will the project continue when funding and/or project lead is no longer available?

The plan is for the accredited training to fund the continuation of the project, and for the local residents to take over the day to day management if they wish. At the beginning of October residents at the Tulse Hill Estate and project will decide the future direction of the polytunnel of that particular 90-day prototype project. Lambeth Poly will identify and set up in other sites and will continue to supervise.

Follow us on twitter @LambethPoly

Join our Project Dirt Page

Fiona Law,, 07947 407237

Support officer LBL: Paula Royal,, 020 7926 0088

Comments on our PD page already:

Love the name. A polytechnic for growing polycultures under polythene! Love the concept. Local food. Duncan TTB Brixton

What a great idea! Pamela, Community Gardener Cressingham Gardens

About the project coordinator, Fiona Law
Co-chair of IEL, trainer in horticulture, Co-ordinator of the South London Master Gardeners (volunteers who support others with their growing), garden designer, former educational manager (language and literacy).

There have been quite a few diversions, digressions and interesting encounters with LBL culture since the project was chosen by the Design Council Community Project team at then end of April. Not keen to blog here on the frustrations of getting to this point as want to keep it all positive and the aims of the project are all consuming.  Can the council come up with an alternative method of feedback so community members doing cooperative work aren’t exposed on the ‘learning’ of which they bear the burden?

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