Growing spaces reach 500

Training allotments opened in Regents Park this week are the 500th growing space made available under London mayor Boris Johnson's plans to develop 2,012 of them in time for the Olympics, but their legacy remains unsecured.

London Food's Capital Growth project - the body behind the training allotment, together with Royal Parks and Capel Manor College - is "galloping ahead" in its plans to develop more urban food production in time for the games. But London Food chair Rosie Boycott said there were no guarantees growing spaces would become permanent.

Speaking to HW, Boycott said: "They are different from traditional allotments because allotments are there in perpetuity whereas these are temporary. With these we do things like five-year leases and while we hope it will be there for ever we don't want to scare the horses off. Gardens don't have to be permanent. If communities love them and keep them going then they will stay."

She said Capital Growth would seek to broker conversation between developers and communities and denied that her role would soon be redundant. "I think it would be quite nice if our role was redundant but I don't think it is yet, by any means. There are still a lot of parts of London where the idea of putting up community growing spaces is completely alien," she insisted.

Boycott said London Food was working with all 33 London boroughs on a commitment for 60 new growing spaces each, in time for the Olympic Games.

Numerous boroughs have already signed up, she revealed, and pledged their commitment to help communities find new growing spaces and negotiate the planning process.

Boycott said a lasting Olympic legacy for horticulture would be secured by more allotments in the Lee Valley. "When we have finished we will have one of the greatest cities on the planet for growing your own, with more growing spaces than anyone else," she concluded.

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