Lambeth Poly – summer success

Lambeth Poly is an employment and skills food project growing in poly tunnels, with its first project on Tulse Hill Estate. See here for previous Lambeth Poly posts.

Highlights We’re really pleased to announce that over the summer we’ve sold several batches of leaves and herbs to Local Greens veg box scheme and to Brixton Village restaurant Cornercopia. We’ve taken payment by Brixton Pound Pay-by-Text. Seven residents have received full induction training, and a further seven are actively involved in the maintenance of the crops. In addition, the project has become Capital Growth Space 1817, opening funding opportunities.

Community The core team of volunteers are involved in production (sowing, watering, harvesting, weighing and bagging crops) and other residents also do daily tunnel chores (ventilating and watering).

There are also ambassadors/friends, for instance Laud (TRA Chair) and Yvonne Joseph (Lambeth Living), and Abu (youth worker living on Cherry Close) who also muck in with sowing.

Two other key people involved are Pamela Woodroffe from Cressingham Estate on Tulse Hill, who held the reins while I was away, and Carlos Mareiros from the estate, whose handy man skills are vital to continuing success, most lately installing chicken wire to stop foxes from tearing the polythene skin.

We always enjoy good chats with people passing through, and have got to know many residents and workers on the estate, such as Neville who collects litter and Dave the drains guy who fills up our watering cans if he can, Isabel who opens doors on the way to work.

There have been some good conversations around the growing table, and good meet ups between residents who didn’t know each other previously. A couple of weeks ago Abu and Laud sorted out martial arts sessions for the newly refurbished Jubilee Hall, for instance.

We’ve hosted growing sessions for children at the summer play scheme and a group from High Trees. Wider interest is developing via twitter (please follow @lambethpoly, and our Project Dirt Page) from growers both local and far away, social enterprise, food campaiging, council workers and local community groups. The project is also indebted to Ann Bodkin, co-chair of Incredible Edible Lambeth, who fired the link with Cornercopia.

As well as the training outlined above, three of the ‘team’ and I had an awayday ‘Grow to Sell’ training provided by Capital Growth at St Mungos in Clapham, where we got some top tips and ideas to develop.

As a grower/designer, the project has been a lot of fun, exploring crops that are marketable and how they grow in the model I designed, and I’ve been delighted with the response and suggestions of the trainees. Visitors and those we talk to admire the crops and the tunnel, are enthusiastic about both the social enterprise and long view resilience aspects to the project.

Next steps include:

  •     continued delivery of crops and exploration of the market
  •     delivery and recruitment of second tranche of training
  •     exploration of how formal training can be incorporated
  •     working with the Enterprise hub at High Trees to develop social enterprise model and funding opportunites to develop the model (aiming for three tunnels in 2013)
  •     open day for residents and all interested parties – Thursday 27th and Saturday 29th September 12 – 3 – visit us in your lunch hour!
  •     evaluation (resident/buyer feedback) and writing up

Rebecca from PEP came by to help one harvest morning: weighing

mixed Italian chicories and amaranth ‘Garnet Red’

bagged salads all ready to go down the hill to Local Greens where they’re doing Thursday collation

Anne at Cornercopia pays Brixton Pounds by text

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