Capital Growth gets 99,000 Londoners growing their own

A programme aimed at encouraging Londoners to grow their own food has helped to get 99,000 people growing on 2,012 new community food gardens, with 82 per cent in the more deprived parts of London, according to a new report.

The statistics were published in a report on the Capital Growth programme, which is funded by the Mayor of London and the Big Lottery, and run by London Food Link.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who wrote a foreword for the report, which analysed the programme's performance over the last four years, said: "Capital Growth has proven to be an astonishing success which has unlocked a primal love of gardening in city dwellers. The scheme has been especially successful not just in the leafy suburbs, but in the more deprived inner London areas where gardening has brought people into contact with neighbours often for the very first time.

"London is now an acknowledged world leader in urban agriculture with Capital Growth showing that bringing people together to make a physical investment in the soil, reaps environmental, social, educational and even economic dividends."

London Food chair Rosie Boycott said: "Capital Growth is a proven recipe for success, unleashing Londoners' rediscovered love of grow your own, binding communities together in a way we scarcely hoped possible. We hope that our experiences and lessons learned will help other urban areas do likewise."

The report, launched at the Edible Urban event in London’s City Hall, also calls for food growing spaces to be provided in all public spaces, all new residential development and in all schools.

Sarah Williams of Capital Growth, said: "This programme has shown that not only do people have an appetite for food growing, but there are also huge benefits such as improving how a community looks, and feels about itself. We want to see Government and landowners give support, as a matter of routine, to more food growing areas in new developments, and also weave them into existing communities."

The report says 71 per cent of people have made a new friend with someone in their neighbourhood as a result of getting involved. Meanwhile, 38 per cent of those involved felt safer in their neighbourhood because of the food growing project.

The report Growing Success: The impact of Capital Growth on community food growing in London can be downloaded from www.sustainweb.org/publications

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