In addition to our three Urban Market Gardens, Growing Communities is creating a Patchwork Farm in Hackney where people who have come through our Appenticeship Scheme grow food on small patches of land, including vicarage gardens, housing estates and private land. With funding from the Big Lottery's Local Food Fund, Growing Communities finds the land and provides the Patchwork Farmers with tools, equipment, and advice to help them grow salad to sell to our weekly veg box scheme and other local outlets. The aim is to increase locally and sustainably grown food and help growers generate an income from food production here in Hackney.
The latest Patchwork Farm micro-site to go into production is on the Landfield Estate in Clapton. It is run by Julie Porter and Jo Wilson who trained on our urban market gardens in 2011. They are pictured above, harvesting their first crop of chicory and endive. "It's early days, but we're determined to make this work as a social enterprise producing local food in Hackney," said Jo. "We've got big plans for involving the local community, and we'd love to hear from any restaurants who would like us to grow for them."
Our four apprentices from 2012 -- Hannah Leigh Mackie, James Cabbett, Sarah Bentley and Sean Gifford -- are setting up another two new sites -- one behind St Matthews church in Upper Clapton, and another in a large private back garden near Kynaston in Stoke Newington -- ready for planting in the spring of 2013.
The Patchwork Farm is currently made up of seven sites. The first was set up in October 2008 by Sean Hearn and Annie Stables in the vicarage garden of St Pauls West Hackney. Then in January 2010, and with the help of loyal volunteers, Ida Fabrizio and Sophie Verhagen started growing salad at The Castle Climbing Centre on Green Lanes. Sophie has gone on to become Assistant Grower at Growing Communities, running the Clissold Park urban market garden, but Ida still runs the site with the help of another ex-apprentice, Jack Cox. Both these gardens were part of the pilot project and were funded by Growing Communities with additional money from Capital Growth for tools and materials.
Last year Emma Brodrick and Ximena Ransom set up micro-sites at Hackney Marshes Tree Nursery and St Michael's & All Angels, Stoke Newington Common.
In addition to supplying Growing Communities' box scheme with salad, the Patchwork Farmers sell salad and herbs to restaurants and cafes across Hackney.
We hope to expand the Patchwork Farm further, and create another 5 micro sites, so if you know of a suitable site - in or near Hackney, about 10 metres by 15 metres with soil underfoot and access to water - then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org