This seals the interim success of this prototype project supported by Veolia (tunnel and materials) and the Innovation Fund under the Design Council Community Projects initiative.
Lambeth Poly trains residents to grow and sell salad leaves and herbs. It has run since July 2012 as a 16 x 18 ft (5 x 5.5m) polytunnel sited on Tulse Hill Estate, Brixton, on a green in the middle of public housing. The prototype phase ended November 2012.
The project is now looking to find a corporate structure and funding to grow the size and number of polytunnels. Another aim is to fund, write and have accredited a qualification specifically for urban polytunnel farmers. The long term goal is to grow capacity in the borough for a local food economy.
Rationale: The demand for locally grown food is rising. Food ‘miles’ push up prices and are bad for the environment. Crops grow more quickly and for longer in the year in the protected environment of a polytunnel, increasing productivity. Polytunnels can be sited on land waiting to be developed, or other ‘residual’ land and does not require soil cleaning. In addition, re-skilling the community in growing is desirable and provides much social return on investment
Summary of achievement to date
Since the tunnel construction on July 7:
- seven local volunteers have been trained and inducted in growing in the tunnel
- three other ‘ambassadors’ from the estate are active
- over £215 of baby leaves and 9cm herb pots have been sold to local restaurants (using £B), local veg box scheme Local Greens and, to a small extent, residents
- 5 outreach/workshop events have been held (3 on the estate, 2 at Lambeth Country Show)
- Two rounds of a cycle of three mini trainings have been held
- Volunteers on the project have had three wider learning opportunities
- Residents have been employed (to make a stop motion film of tunnel construction, to make benches and multi-dibbers)
- project has generated much interest and countless ’friends’ on the estate and in wider Brixton and Lambeth
- The project won Capital Growth’s Enterprise award in its Olympic year Grow for Gold competition
The polytunnel project was proposed by local horticulturist, trainer and garden designer Fiona Law, and matched to Lambeth Council’s Co-op by Design initiative. It was accepted it as one of a raft of community/council co-produced projects in the Tulse Hill area. Fiona will be taking the project forward.
To find out more or offer advice or funding contact 07914 843619 or email@example.com
Links here evidence the work and community engagement on the project:
*To commemorate the Olympic year, Capital Growth launched in February 2012 the Grow for Gold competition. Capital Growth is a partnership initiative between London Food Link, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund. It is championed by the Chair of the London Food Board Rosie Boycott and aims to create 2012 new community food growing spaces across London by the end of 2012.