On the 6th November at City Hall, Energy Garden launched its Community Bond. Set at the top of the City Hall in the ‘Living Room’, with its spectacular views of London through translucent solar panels. The venue was decorated with cabbages, carrots, apples and Brussel sprouts, harvest for the occasion.
The event began with an in-depth session on investment. Directors Liv Harder, Niall Ridell, Errol Stryker and Agamemnon Otero unpacked the financial model, risk, return and Social Return on Investment (SROI). Sharing that sophisticated investors, with a minimum bond investment of £5,000 would receive a 4% interest return and 100% capital repayment from their investment over 18 years. Investors would also see their stake matched in terms of SROI.
The project SROI of £2.04 for every £1 invested into Energy Garden is based on an analysis of:
- Perceived mental health
- Perceived physical health
- Perceived competence, engagement and purpose
- Sense of trust, belonging and safety
- Learning new things
- Self confidence
Financial return: £1 = £1.04
SROI: £1 = £1
Total return: £1 = £2.04
Following the finance session, as more guests arrived for the main event, there was an opportunity for all in attendance to network and enjoy the locally grown and sourced food and drink.
The main event had good turnout from Energy Gardeners, Transport Partners, Volunteers, Young Interns, Directors, Investors and representatives from the GLA. Energy Garden founder Agamemnon Otero got proceedings under way with an introduction on Energy Garden’s background and recognised all the community gardener’s hard work. So far Energy Garden has engaged 67 community groups across 24 Energy Gardens. There are due to be 40 Energy Gardens by the end of 2018.
The socio-environmental benefit of Energy Garden is what makes this project so significant for all parties involved. Air quality is improving, biodiversity is increasing, community-cohesion and wellbeing is naturally growing, education is provided; from primary schools to internships for young adults and maturing adults.
Asant Agyare, a member of the first Energy Garden Internship cohort, took to the stage to share her story. She illustrated her journey from solar panel making to gardening through the AQA accredited course which led her to enrol in a Masters in Urban Development Planning at UCL.
Following the presentations from Agamemnon and Asant, there were two panel discussions. The first of which saw Emma Fenton, representative of the GLA Air Quality team; Matthew Frith, Director of Conservation at the London Wildlife Trust and Robbie Erbmann, Head of Housing Strategy for TFL discussing the future of sustainable cities. The second panel, discussing decentralised energy, was comprised of Felix Wight, Technical Director at Repowering and Vincent de Rul, Head Of Business Development at EDF Energy.
Both sets of panels expressed promising words for the development of London of as a sustainable city. Support from all corners for the Energy Garden project was received.
As the event drew to a close the guests tucked into a delicious range of organic food. The food was lovingly prepared Energy Gardeners, and beautifully presented on bark plates and cabbage leaves. There was even a chance to try the much sought-after Energy Garden Ale. A delicious beverage, heartily brewed by Energy Garden members and perfect for quenching thirst after a hard days gardening.
The event bar was kindly sponsored by Ashden who’s continued support, alongside The Peoples Postcode Lottery, is most greatly appreciated.