- Posted January 30, 2013
Growing your own fruit and veg feeds the body with healthy, nutritious food but planting crops at home can lift the spirits of an entire community too.
Naomi Schillinger is one of the founder members of a community project on the streets of London that was tight on space but big on ambition. The aim wasn’t just to encourage neighbours to grow flowers, herbs, fruit and veg in tiny spaces on their streets and front gardens but also to sow the seeds of a close knit community that could grow and grow.
A qualified horticulturalist and professional gardener, Naomi will be sharing the success story of her community with a talk ‘Dinner on Your Doorstep’ at The Edible Garden Show — the only national event dedicated to the grow-your-own revolution when it returns to Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, from 15-17 March.
Naomi, who lives in Islington, says: “We started with a project to plant wild flowers in tree pits around the base of trees on our streets nearly four years ago and it has blossomed from there.”
Unlike many community growing projects around the country that are based on allotment sites, local authority-owned land or school playgrounds, the successful Islington scheme is based at home and residents taking part don’t even need a garden.
Naomi says: “Ours is a very informal project that has grown to 100 households on two streets. It has transformed our neighbourhood and led to wonderful new relationships across the generations. Some of our best growers are all older members of the community but we have been encouraging children to get involved too. Children really love to see vegetables growing and our project has shown you don’t even need a front garden to get involved as crops such as carrots, tomatoes, lettuces, nasturtium and herbs have thrived in our window boxes. There are so many plants that are ornamental as well as edible so they look fabulous and are great to eat too.”
“Groups of us bake cakes and make tea and coffee on a Grow-Your-Own Cake Sunday to give out free seeds in one of the front gardens at the beginning of the season. There is so much you can grow just in a window box or a grow bag by your front step. We don’t let lack of space in tiny front gardens defeat us!
“It has definitely had a wonderful effect on the neighbourhood. Everyone is so much friendlier towards each other, we have delicious home grown produce and the front gardens and streets look great too.”
Bursting with innovative products, top exhibitors, home-grown produce, food, livestock and celebrity speakers the show is inspired by the grow-your-own revolution and is a one-stop shop for anyone wanting a slice of the ‘Good Life’. Packed with new ideas, advice and features it has something for all the family from bees, chickens, goats and pigs to seeds, sheds, wellies and wormeries.
Naomi will give an interactive talk on growing in tiny spaces on Friday, the opening day of the event. She has just finished creating the words and pictures for her first book, ‘Veg Street’, due to be published in March. Inspired by the community veg growing project she helped start up, the book is a month-by-month guide to growing veg in urban front gardens and small spaces. It also gives tips and advice on how to start your own street growing project – knitting your community together as you go.
Naomi who works as a garden coach, consultant and gardener for clients all over North London, says: “I am delighted to be coming to The Edible Garden Show to share our story and also to give tips on growing in small urban spaces.”
Continuing the growing in small spaces theme at the show, award-winning TV presenter James Wong will be giving a talk every day called ‘No Garden, no problem’. James will give tips on harvesting foodie treats all year round from your very own mini indoor farm of edible house plants – from green tea and cardamom to vanilla grass and Kaffir limes. Author and TV presenter Alys Fowler will speak on Saturday and Sunday about the secrets of growing tasty fruit in small spaces. Her micro orchard talk will provide everything you need to know about highly productive fruit trees and bushes in your garden.
Other celebrity speakers at the event include renowned chef Rachel Green who will get taste buds tingling with her flamboyant cookery demonstrations and popular Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Bob Flowerdew who will talk ‘a load of old rot’ about compost.
Poultry vet Victoria Roberts will be on hand to share her hen-rearing tips with a programme of talks and demonstrations and there will also be daily demonstrations by the British Pig Association. Tickets cost £15 (£12 in advance) with concessions for children and the elderly.
Call the ticket hotline on 0844 338 8001 or book tickets online here.