DeBG's CF project is starting to get asked for help not only with pop-ups (in which one can grow fruit and vegetables) but also some quite large community growing projects - one entire Council estate and one pocket park, so far - and the rate of enquiries is growing very fast.

I wondered if I could recruit any help and support to provide the expertise and/or just plain helpful effort from local food growers/those interested in doing more of that, via this group.

What do you think?

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What is DeBG's CF project? Sorry if this is a stupid question but I'm not up to date with a lot of things because I was away from London for a few months.

Hi Martina,

It's on the events list here as at 19th May, which is the launch date for Chelsea Fringe - but all the projects have to be created (as far as possible) by that point.

De Beauvoir Gardeners are using the Fringe to kickstart community street planting in Hackney: mainly underplanting street trees etc but, where there aren't any existing street plantings but there's lots of empty pavement space, we're trying to get permission for pop-up gardens in builders' bags o.n.o.

Hope that you'll adopt a street tree (or several) near  you or come up with some other idea for helping make the streets of Hackney greener: just tell us where, so that we can get your planting protected against routine Council street spraying with herbicide.

People can't grow fruit and vegetables at ground level in the streets because of animal fouling but, wherever we can get space that can be fenced off (as in the estates, with Hackney Homes' permission) or use pop-ups (for which we need approval from the head of Hackney street scene), then that is feasible as well as growing herbaceous perennials, bulbs, self-seeding annual flowers etc.

For full details, see the CF webpage at and follow the links to our parent group (if you fancy joining a gardening club) and our ever-growing project blogsite. Miranda has also put us onto Facebook and Twitter (but I've mostly been using my own related accounts, so I'm not sure how much is going on there); try and .

Thanks, Diana! I have heard of Chelsea Fringe, I just couldn't make sense of these acronyms. There's an awful lot going on at the moment, and I'm involved in quite a bit of horticultural volunteering, from Capital Growth (I'm one of the current site support volunteers) to Garden Organic (about to do the Master Gardener training) and gardening for time credits with the Timber Wharf Time Bank ( ) as well as our own communal garden behind the block of flats where I live. I have many years of veg growing experience, as well as horticultural qualifications (City & Guilds and RHS), and I'd love to help where I can but the problem is time -- I have to make a living as well... If you could give me some idea of the nature of enquiries, maybe I'll have some ideas of who might be able to help.

You're welcome. Sorry for the too-handy acronyms; I get tired of typing out the whole rigmarole, especially since I joined SH initially in order to help spread the word about this project which has taken over my life. If only there were a way of making a living out of doing this stuff - but it's all voluntary.

If I could just refer on to you anyone who needs serious advice on the food growing side of things, as and when particular sites need it, that would be great - then you can pass them on to other relevant people.

I actually asked this particular question of SH's food growing group, ahead of being asked by any local resident for that particular form of help - just for once, I could see a likely problem and tried to research the answer in advance!

LIke the GQT man who wrote the vegetables book, I know (a bit of) the theory but am not the world's greatest at growing veg yet myself - and I'm working all the hours in the day already, just keeping up with the general advice and assistance needed on finding suitable sites and getting the relevant official permissions etc etc.

I know everything about volontary projects taking over one's life! The trouble with horticulture is that a lot of people don't realise how much work it is (it all looks so easy on TV!), and there is only so much one can achieve with volontary work only, especially when the weather is crap. I don't know how many questions you've had so far, and I can't promise I can handle every enquiry you might get, but if you give me some idea of the nature of the question I could tell you whether I would be able to help or not. Some things are easy: If somebody asks (as I overheard the other day): 'Why have my beans died?', you obviously don't need to ask any further questions or see the plants -- if they've been planted outside in this weather, the answer is 'because you planted them out too early'. But if it's 'why are the leaves of my tomato plants mottled?' it gets a lot more complicated! Btw, I'm in Stamford Hill, which is not where I imagine the centre of the action will be, but if somebody reasonably local needs some advice that involves popping over, I might be able to do this within reason if it doesn't happen too often! I'll see whether I can gather a few more people -- maybe we could set up some kind of CF trouble shooting group...

Thanks, Martina.

I don't know about Stamford Hill not being the "centre of the action" - if that's so, it's only because we haven't managed to attract local attention sufficiently! I got a notice out to the Claptonite the other day and made a non-area specific version for the Shoreditch Sisters yesterday so, if you have a local e-newsletter around SH that I could send it to also, then do let me know how to do that.

We already have people involved as far north as Somerford Grove who need all the expertise they can get - they're tackling an entire pocket park - but I haven't yet got them to say if they want to do fruit and veg in containers on the tarmacked part of that and we're also awaiting permission from Hackney Homes, which manages the whole area - but, as HH are already very keen on community growing groups on their estates, that shouldn't be too much of a problem (I hope).

I am not aware of any Stamford Hill wide newsletter. But it might be worth getting in touch with the Cazenove Area action group and Hackney Planning Watch (they also have a fb group) because there are a few Stamford Hill people with gardens in these groups. Most of my immediate area is rented flats, with a very high turnover of people, and a strong orthodox Jewish population. (Most of them won't do any gardening but that's a long story). There are few things going on on estates, e.g. on Stamford Hill Estate but a lot of these projects are new and I haven't seen much activity yet which is not surprising in this weather!

I haven't been there for a while but they used to have quite a few garden enthusiasts as well:

Thanks for those illuminating remarks. (Sorry to see that orthodoxy in SH seems to pre-empt gardening for some strange reason - I had wondered earlier if that could possibly be what you meant - but there's no pleasing some folks, so probably best not to dwell on that.)

I've written to CAAG and also - although without much expectation of results - to HPW, in its virtually unused Wordpress blog form. I didn't find their Facebook group though - singular lack of any forward link from the old and now archival-only blog address you had.

If there are new estate gardening groups on local estates up your way, I wonder if they're on the Hackney Homes radar. I was asked by Cherie Joseph at HH to look out for such groups because her list is far from complete and she wants to get groups going everywhere that HH manages. Do you have contacts within the estates you mentioned or have you just been observing from walking nearby?

Looked up campbellworks and will try to drop them a line too - for all I know, they'll turn out to be involved in Chelsea Fringe themselves already!

Hackney Planning Watch fb

As for Stamford Hill Estate, the contact person named on the board is   It's a collaboration with Vacant Lot

Last time I went passed they hadn't filled the planters yet and there was a huge mountain of soil!

Btw, the reason for lack of enthusiasm for gardening in some quarters here is quite simple: lack of time (very large families), lack of suitable space (many people rent from private landlords), high turnover of renters.

This sounds interesting – might go and have a look when I have a minute tomorrow. I wish we had somebody who’s retired to help us with our garden... Mosaic have quite a lot of property in the area -- might be worth getting in touch with them.

Bethune Tenants Gardens

Capital Growth Space 733

The garden was started by one of the retired tenants, who when he looked out of his window, all he could see was the dustbin area, parked cars and a bit of lawn. He then decided he was going to plant some flowers in the area he could see outside of his window. It looked so nice that myself and another tenant decided to join him and do the entire area at the back of the flats. We have created a garden, consisting of flowers and vegetables. We have also created an area where the tenants can have a barbeque if they so wish. The building consists of twenty flats and now, because of the garden, it brings us all closer together as a community. It has created a wonderful ambiance which has meant the tenants now enjoy coming out to the back area of the flats to view the lovely plants.

Run by: part of family mosaic estates
Address: 154 and 158 Bethune Road, Hackney, N16 5DS

Thanks, Martina.

More for me to chew over when time permits ie after Chelsea Fringe starts in 10 days' time.


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