Summary of London’s Capital Growth urban ag project

Styles House allotment, on land owned by Transport for London above Southwark tube station.
(Source: The Telegraph
)
A new report by the NGO Sustain (Growing Success: The Impact of Capital Growth on community food growing in London) describes the progress of Capital Growth, a partnership of London Food Link, the Mayor of London, and the Big Lottery’s Local Food Program to create 2,012 new community food growing spaces across London by the end of 2012. The project involved making new land available for gardening spaces, providing materials, technical assistance, and a support network for growers, and influencing policies to support the expansion of urban agriculture.
Among the accomplishments described in the report are:
  • The creation of 124 acres of new food growing spaces;
  • Establishing 20% of these urban agriculture sites on housing estates and 35% on school sites (with 700 schools growing food as part of the project); and
  • Ensuring that two-thirds of the gardens/farms were on land that was unused, derelict, or inaccessible.

New policies are often driven by projects that require legal, administrative or procedural changes. One of the accomplishments of the Capital Growth effort was the generation of policy changes to accommodate the expansion of urban agriculture in London.  Key new policies include:

  • Including the Capital Growth project in 
the London Plan, the city’s 20-year strategic framework, so that it encourages local planners to create and protect land for food production;
  • Getting the Greater London Authority to include food production in the city’s green infrastructure plan;
  • Getting local borough strategies to include food growing as an important land use;
  • Challenging perceived legal barriers to growing food; and
  • Working with Transport for London on ways to access transportation sites and developing a template lease agreement for these sites.

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