November 15, 2008

The Growing Kitchen


In August the Magnificent Revolution Cycle Powered Cinema invited me to the launch of The Growing Kitchen. A project on the Napier Estate – set in the middle of a maze of high rises between Islington and Shoreditch.


On arrival I discovered an incredible oasis


A transformed plot of what once was disused land now abundant with vegetables and edible plants planted by residents.


The raised beds all imaginatively made out of recycled materials, constructed by hand, by the people.


This project was initiated by Grass Shoots Initiatives, supported by the Shoreditch Trust, no feeling of corporates or councils here.


I watched the film (powered by bike peddlers) that documented the process of the construction, growing and cooking. A recipe book called ‘what would you grow here?’ was for sale – compiled by local residents. There was a lot of talk about what events could be held there. It was buzzing.


A few weeks later we (Pilot Publishing) decided to go back, to see how the garden was growing. I spoke with a young mother who lives nearby – she told me how she had watched the project grow and that everyday she sees local residents in the garden tending their plots, maintaining and caring for the space.


She said she would love to learn about how to grow vegetables.

One thing that struck me – was the fact that the gate to the growing kitchen was left unlocked, open day and night. a breath of fresh air I thought. An inspiring niche, an example of trust, generosity and the need for collective venture. This could be a really important case study and model for future projects on estates, wasteland and disused land in the urban environment.


If you know of any other urban growing projects please let us know!

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