Transition Belsize is a community group in the NW3 area of London seeking to design a better future for our local area. Our aim is to come up with a vision of a greener and happier Belsize, to strengthen community through fun, useful and sociable activities. If you live, work or play in NW3, then you’re very welcome to join us.
A new report, entitled Growing Success, has just been produced to describe the huge and positive impact of the Capital Growth programme over the last four years. The programme, funded by the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery, and run by London Food Link has helped get around 99,000 people growing on 2012 community food gardens, with 82% in the more deprived parts of London.
Several of us met up at Swiss Cottage on Saturday to plant seeds in the raised beds. The beds have now been filled with compost, but the recent drought meant we had to make several trips with a watering can to prepare the beds for this year's seeds. We now have a wide variety of plants growing and are hoping that leeks and brussel sprouts will add interest and keep on growing during the winter, when other plants have gone.
At last Saturday's gardening session at the Premier Inn site, we had a visitor from Japan who was keen to learn about what we were doing. We heard that we are not the only people trying to grow food in confined spaces - in Japan, where land is also scarce, apartment blocks are being developed which are sold with the benefit of communal growing space (see attached picture at this link).
This is a quick update on the latest burst of activity at the Premier Inn site.
Despite being dressed unsuitably, the Transition Belsize Premier Inn gardening team were not put off by the cold wet weather and met up at the weekend to check out the state of the site. Those scurrying up the hill were greeted with a swinging compost bucket of veg being fed to the worms. Heartless team members had no qualms about expressing a lack of sympathy for the wimpiness of those who had refused to garden in the snow a couple of weeks earlier. The team set to work, no messing around, rescuing drowning worms, pruning straggling plants, tidying away unsightly plastic bottles and cardboard. Hiding under an umbrella, a team member took notes of what we were going to plant where.
It is a little known fact that, in addition to the growing spaces at St Peter's, the Premier Inn and the Royal Free, Transition Belsize also maintains some raised beds near the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre.
Now that the snow has gone, mint and thyme can be seen to have survived the winter. It's a bit early to plant most seeds, but broad beans are tolerant of cold weather and we have planted lots of these so that the site can produce some early crops.
There used to be quite a few people maintaining these beds but many have moved away. We hope to encourage some new people to continue their work.
This site gives us an excellent opportunity to show the local community some of the things that we do.