Nine small market gardens make up our Patchwork Farm in Hackney. You are welcome to visit our larger sites when we are working there or join our volunteer work team.
Our Springfield Park site is located in Springfield Park, Clapton E5 9EF. We work at Springfield on Tuesdays between 10am and 4pm. In addition to its raised beds, Springfield also has a polytunnel which grows a variety of different salad crops in winter and then turns over to heat loving crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and basil.
Our Clissold Park site is located in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, N16 9HJ. Our site is open to the public when we are working there on Mondays from 10am to 4pm. This site also boasts a polytunnel and in addition to tomatoes, cucumbers and beans, also specialises in melon growing!
Our Allens Gardens learning garden (above) is on the corner of Manor Road and Bethune Road, N16 5BD. We work at Allens Gardens on Mondays between 10am and 4pm. There is a self-guided tour to allow you to find out more about what we are doing while allowing the growers, trainees and volunteer team to carry on working. As well as the growing space, our Allens site boasts an eco classroom, which features a fully operational compost toilet and a living sedum roof. The building is available for hire.
Our Hackney Tree Nursery site is just off Homerton Road, Hackney Marshes. We work there on Tuesdays between 10am and 4pm. For more information about the site and directions for getting there, look up the Tree Nursery on the Sustainable Hackney website.
Five more small plots of up to 150m2 make up the rest of our Patchwork Farm. Here, graduates from our Urban Growing Training Scheme grow salad to sell to our weekly veg box scheme and other local outlets. This has increased the amount of locally and sustainably grown food in Hackney and helped growers generate an income from food production.
Farmgate Sales at Clissold Park
During the growing season - March to September - we have produce for sale at our Clissold Park site on Mondays: the leaves and fruit are picked that day so are the freshest money can buy. Depending on season, we offer salad leaves, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and melons.
History of our market gardens
Growing Communities started off with a demonstration growing plot in Clissold Park in 1997. After the park's refurbishment in 2010, we inherited the old butterfly tunnel, which we reskinned and turned into a productive polytunnel.
Our Springfield Park market garden opened in 2001 on the site of a yard formerly used by the park rangers. The polytunnel was constructed the same year. We used the Springfield greenhouses for veg production until they were declared unsafe in 2009.
We took over our site in Allens Gardens on Bethune Road, Stoke Newington in 2004. It replaced a previous site, further up Bethune Road, which we had to leave when the land was sold on for housing. We moved the entire site, which included most of the raised beds, the fruit trees, herbs and over seven tonnes of lovingly cultivated organic topsoil 400 metres down the road to Allens Gardens. The site had previously been home to burnt-out litter bins and a derelict container but is now a thriving learning garden - where - now you'll find raised beds full of salad leaves, organic fruit trees lining one wall, a pond, wildlife area, a greenhouse, a shed and our eco building.
Several of the sites were set up as part of a development project funded by the Local Food Fund that ran from 2012 to 2014. All were set up on previously underused spaces on estates, private gardens and church land across Hackney.
Shown above, the plot on Kynaston Avenue off Stoke Newington High Street, before and after the Patchwork Farmers cleared more than 30 tonnes of brambles, rubble and concrete and replaced them with 30 tonnes of organic compost, raised beds and fruit trees in spring 2014. Sadly, the landlords asked us to move out of the site when Lloyds TSB Bank moved out of the building in January 2017.
The Patchwork Farm was shortlisted for the Local Food Enterprise Award 2013.
Patchwork Farm coordinator Stephanie Irvine (left, in the centre, with the Local Food Award) said: “We’re delighted that all the hard work our Patchwork farmers have put into transforming their sites and growing salad to sell has been such a success. We hope that our pioneering project will inspire other urban communities to grow and distribute their produce through community-led trade.”