A slow inspiration took hold a few years ago when I fixed on the idea of growing edibles in containers – an experiment in food-growing in small spaces.
I had attended the 2005 Science and Sustainability Symposium at the Centre for Alternative Technology, and went to a talk by Annie Sugrue of EcoCity. This South African environmental NGO strives, amongst other things, to ease poverty in an urban context. They encourage people to cultivate their own crops, as even a few home-grown veg can provide a degree of poverty alleviation. It is not necessary to have fields or large areas in order to grow food, and Sugue spoke of “finding the spaces in-between,” those marginal pieces of land which could be utilised for food growing.
That phrase lodged in my head and two years later the inspiration became reality. In 2007 I started my experiment by growing crops in containers on a sliver of ground in the gardener’s compound where I worked. It was a stretch half a metre by seven metres along a fence. The following year, the situation changed and I had to conduct my experiment along two shorter fence lines, including under shade. Now I’m growing food in pots closer to home – a new home where the growing space is even smaller than I’ve ever had!
“Finding the spaces in-between” translates very well into London living. The reasons why people want to grow food are numerous. Heading the list in a survey by Vertical Veg was the simple pleasure of growing. Other reasons include taste; knowing the food is organic and chemical-free; saving money; and growing different or exotic food.
The inspirations may be varied… but the enthusiasm is the same.
|An Unpromising Start:
my growing space when I moved in 2013