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The Royal Free Growing Site

The Royal Free Growing Site

Transition Belsize first began working in the Royal Free's Heath Strange garden (on top of the car park) in 2011, cultivating the plot based on permaculture principles.

Permaculture is the solutions toolkit and philosophy underpinning the Transition movement. It's about using our imaginations to design energy and waste out of systems, and instead work with nature rather than seeking to subjugate it. See here for Rob Hopkins on what permaculture is and how it's linked to Transition.

In November 2011 Transition Belsize launched their first "Introduction to Urban Permculture Design" course. One of the aims of the course was to create a forest garden food growing site on the Royal Free Hospital estate. The group planted heritage fruit trees including two types of apple, cherry, pear, plum and  hazelnuts, we've also planted lots of heritage fruit bushes, including less common varieties such as tayberry, japanese wineberry, kiwi and edible honeysuckle. 

With the help of medicine herb man Mark Watson, the also created a Medicinal Herb bed, which includes Ribwort Plantain, Japanese Mugwort, Vervain, Valerian, Forget-me-not, Hoary Willowherb, Echinacea, St John's Wort, Rosemary, Feverfew and Lavender.

Sadly, the garden did not survive hospital building works in 2013, though a small remnant remains on the far side of the garden, opposite the hospital.

However we have now been given the large bed closest to the building to cultivate in the short term (building works will begin again in September 2015), and we are working on plans to plant it with a wildflower garden, flowers for children and hospital visitors and patients to pick and plots of maize, pumpkins and beans (the Three Sisters of Native American tradition).

We need volunteers so if you'd like to come along and get your hands dirty, get in touch at to be added to the project mailing list. We need all levels of gardening skill, from zero to expert!