This is the latest post in a series that I am writing about community growing spaces in urban settings. Bandstand Beds is a community growing project situated on Clapham Common, in south London.
Bandstand Beds provides, ‘…an area for the local community to discover the joys and benefits of growing and cooking their own food, with the added benefit of taking home freshly picked fruit and vegetables’.
The small space that is available on the Common has been efficiently used. However, if you did not know that it was here, you may walk past it without noticing it! However, once inside, the beauty and productivity of the space is a revelation.
The community garden is maintained by volunteers. In October the garden successfully raised over £5000 on Spacehive. The money raised will make the ‘community food growing garden accessible to disabled and elderly people by building pathways in the new part of the garden up to our community kitchen’.
I visited the community garden to take part in a fundraising event for the GreenShoots Foundation. I have written about the work of this foundation in an earlier post. Before taking a look around the garden, I had lunch cooked by Limbudi. It was a lovely way to begin my visit, sharing food, some of which (the vegetables) had been sourced from the Bandstand Beds gardens. The air was full of light drizzle, and the food was warming and zesty – coconut lentil curry with squash grown from Bandstand Beds served with rice and for dessert, a lemon-cardamom cake.
There was plenty of autumn produce in the garden.
The development of the site has included installing a polytunnel and raised beds. There is also a shipping container in which the food for the fundraising lunch was cooked. It is a space that has been transformed from a piece of wasteland into a well-used community food growing area. The fact that the number of members has increased from 10 people in 2015 to 80 people today shows the interest in growing food within the local community. You can read more about the history of BandStand Beds here.
The gardens also provide a haven for insects and other wildlife. Community gardens and edible spaces can enhance biodiversity. There is also a resident cat!
Urban food projects are an essential part of the food system. We are all part of a food system, and the choices we make within the system do matter. The popularity and increased numbers of urban food projects is evidence that:
- people appreciate being connected to the food that they eat
- people appreciate making a connection to the places they live in
- people want to know how the food they are eating has been grown
- people want fresh and local produce to be available in a community setting
- people can be connected to communities through food
- food creates social connections