The Second Energy Garden Hop on Hop off Tour

On Saturday 20th January, Energy Gardeners braved the elements to view what one another had been up to. It’s one thing to make the effort on your own station but checking out what your Overground neighbours are Energy Gardening is a hot topic now that 30 gardens are complete!

This time round we started at Kew Gardens, a station that homes the oldest gardening society in UK, and is blessed with good earth space for plants along both platforms. Designed by Kew Gardeners this elaborate yet, urban chic garden looks fab through the British winter and summer

 

Caroline and Sue from the Kew Society, brought their newly made placards for all of us to help put into the beds. These placards are the first step in drawing attention to our work, as so many people don’t realise the greening is managed and delivered by local community groups and Energy Garden.

The next station on the tour was Acton Central. A station not blessed with green areas or vast quantities of space but has managed to create a lovely Energy Garden nonetheless. We discussed the garden with the staff present on the platform and were thrilled with their enthusiasm for the project.

Michael Woods showed us around at his local station, Willesden Junction. A maze of platforms and train tracks, with many potential sites for Energy Garden to use. Beyond a rich history, Willesden Junction has a great community group, green space for planting as well as a water supply on its platform.  Making it the envy of other groups who have been struggling with access to water.

Brondesbury Park, where it all started, was the next stop. The moment we stepped off the train, we were greeted by large, open, green space that was cleared and planted. Patti, lead Energy Garden champion of Brondesbury Park Energy Garden, brought out a delicious homemade, blood orange cake to tantalise the taste buds. Alluring some of the group to help fill the compost with some dead foliage.

Next, we went for high tea at Hampstead Heath station with Jonathan who has created the Hampstead Heath Peace Garden (a garden just adjacent to the station). He and Miki warmly welcomed us with teas and coffee to wash down Patti’s cake and fend off the winter chill. As the lead Energy Garden Champion of Hampstead Heath, Jonathan presented us the impressive vegetable garden, where commuters are welcome to go in and pick themselves a lettuce, tomato or even swiss chard.  We discussed improvements for the station and building on his prince trust scholars and ideas to merge with the Energy Gardens schools programme.

As we passed by the living air quality wall at Caledonian Road and ended up at our final stop, Hackney Downs. There were many planters on the platforms and with a little bit of TLC they will be blooming with colour in time for spring.

The next Hop on Hop Off Tour will be along the northern part of the line, remember to follow us on Facebook, twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all things Energy Garden.

Thank you to everyone who came on the tour, hope to see you on the next one!

Please note Energy Garden is recruiting for its paid accredited training.

Please email info@energygarden.org for more information.

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The Energy Garden Community Bond Offer is here!

Over the last two years, Energy Garden has been working to create a community-owned company that supports a city-wide greening project on London’s transport infrastructure.  We needed to find a new way to raise millions of pounds in a structure that would not change our core principle of equitable treatment for all members. Energy Garden is proud to present our Community Bond Offer which upholds equitable treatment of both individuals (retail investors) and organisations (institutional investors) and will allow all investors to be repaid their interest and capital at the same rate. Energy Garden is currently in discussions with a number of parties regarding their investment in the programme.

 

The £16,500,000 Energy Garden Bond Offer will allow members to participate in:

 

  • A London-wide community energy and gardening society
  • Acquiring and developing renewable energy assets
  • Greening London’s transportation infrastructure
  • Empowering communities to take positive action
  • Educating and training young people in food growing, healthy living and energy
  • Improving air quality and biodiversity
  • Earning a projected 4% per annum return on investment

Investment in the Community Bond Offer will help Energy Garden to deliver community gardens and well-being programmes for the next 20 years. Energy Garden investors are forecast to receive a 4% per annum return on their outstanding investment as well as seeing a high rate of social return on their investment.

The money raised through the Community Bond Offer will allow Energy Garden to purchase a portfolio of solar photovoltaic (PV) sites (roof- and ground-mounted) across the country. In turn, these sites will generate revenue streams through the sale of solar energy.

The revenue from the Community Bond Offer will support Energy Garden as it continues to install community gardens across the Transport for London’s (TfL) Overground network over the next 20 years, and generate a financial return for investors. These gardens act as a community hub as well as brightening up people’s daily commutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To date, Energy Garden has:

 

If you are an institution, sophisticated investor, or a high net worth individual (all within the definitions of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000), please contact info@energygarden.org.uk to request a copy of the Community Bond Offer document or for further information regarding the financial and/or social return on investment.

Please read the Community Bond Offer Document before investing and seek professional advice, if necessary.

Please note Energy Garden Community Bonds are long-term investments. If you invest part or all your original invested capital may be at risk and interest and capital repayments are dependent on the success of Energy Garden Ltd. Although the Community Bonds are transferable, you may not be able to sell your Community Bonds for the price you bought them for.

 

The Energy Garden Community Bond Launch at City Hall – 6th November 2017

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.

 

Energy Garden Community Bond Launch 6th November at City Hall

This Monday, 6th November, Energy Garden will launch its Community Bond at City Hall. The event will be attended by Energy Gardeners, Transport Partners, Volunteers, Young Interns, Directors, Investors, representatives from the GLA and more.

 

The Community Bond launch will take you through our journey, our current projects and our future plans. As well as this, the event will play host to panel discussions on the future of decentralised food, energy and transport. Above all else, the event is our chance to thank our dedicated members and showcase the amazing work they have done so far.

 

To date Energy Garden has:

 

• Transformed 100’s of square meters of rail side track on 24 stations into food production space
• Engaged 67 community groups in our wellbeing programme
• Created biodiversity refuges for hedgehogs, bats, bees and birds
• Established the first air quality monitoring programme on TFL Overground
• Provided a paid accredited training programme for 10 young people
• Educated over 1500 school children in 37 schools

 

But we’re only just getting started….

 

Investment in our Community Bond and Public Share Offer will allow the Energy Garden project to grow over the next 20 years. The community bond for sophisticated investors is the first of two investment opportunities with Energy Garden. There is a share offer launch opening public investment scheduled for early December.

It’s not too late to book your place at the 6th November event through the eventbrite link here.

 

 

Energy Garden In Upfront Magazine

Energy Garden is continuing its fantastic work alongside its partners TFL and Groundwork London. The work continues to gain momentum and is being recognised more and more. TFL’s internal magazine ‘Upfront’ recently published an interesting piece about the Brondesbury Park Energy Garden. The article contains interviews with station and Energy Garden staff who are both thrilled with the impact the works have had on the local community. Station Service Delivery Manager Alessandra Deal Scala notes how there has been a noticeable change in the community and their feelings towards the station. Energy Gardens very own Luke Jones also commented on the increased feeling of community around the Brondesbury Park station and added how Energy Garden is perfectly aligned with the Mayors pledge to create a greener, cleaner London.

Energy Garden in TimeOut

Energy Garden recently appeared in Timeout with some of Londons most exciting and innovative environmental projects. We are delighted to be held alongside such amazing projects by the go-to guide to whats happening in our city.

TimeOut article discussing the work of the Energy Garden project

Energy Garden is based on local communities coming together to take ownership of their local station and make it a place to be proud of. The response we have had until now has been amazing and we are hopeful that the TimeOut article will inspire a new wave of people to come and join us.

We are really proud to be working on the world’s first combined community gardening and energy project and its great that we are being recognised as working towards the Mayor’s goal of a greener, cleaner London.

Next time you pass through your local Energy Garden feel free to get involved!

Honest Tea launch at Mobile Garden City

 

Honest Tea launched its partnership with Groundwork London today at Mobile Garden City with Honest ambassador and TV presenter Julia Bradbury. The partnership will bring more green spaces and gardens to London, including moving the Mobile Garden City to Hackney to become an Energy Garden. Honest Tea’s research showed that while many Brits can’t keep a houseplant alive  long term, over a third would like to grow their own fruit, herbs and vegetables at home, and half of all Brits and Londoners say their daily lifestyle would be improved if they could spend more time outdoors. An increase in community gardens would provide spaces for Londoners to grow their own food and get involved in gardening.

 

Julia Bradbury said, “It’s no secret that gardening and spending more time outdoors can have a positive impact on physical health and mental wellbeing – and this can be especially important to people who live in busy towns and cities.” Energy Garden’s programme brings green spaces to busy Londoners, who can stop on their commute to take part in a community garden.

Agamemnon Otero, Founder of Energy Garden, added “Energy Garden is about growing home in our concrete in our concrete alleys and grey streets. The programme endeavours to transform Overground stations into community gardens and food growing spaces, to show us how to take control of our urban environment. This programme is sustainably financed with revenue from the sale of renewable energy. Proceeds to the Solar Co-operative will pay volunteer coordinators, purchase gardening materials and equipment and arranging lease agreements on our ‘edible corridors’ for the next twenty years.”

The event included activities such as creating your own hanging plants with recycled bottles: see the instructions below!

 

West Croydon Update!

Thanks to the work of volunteers and the Energy Garden Green Team, West Croydon now has brightly colored planters filled with ferns, lamiums, bergenias, perennial geraniums, euphorbia, liriopes and skimmias! If you pass them on your commute, please help out by watering during this warm weather!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Energy Garden & Banister House tour

On Tuesday the 27th of June, a tour of Energy Garden and Banister House Solar started at Brondesbury Park Overground station in North London. Colin Baines of Friends Provident Foundation created the event in conjunction with Community energy fortnight so that UK Social Impact Investment Groups could see community projects that are delivering social, environmental and financial returns in urban communities.
The day started with Brondesbury Park Energy Gardeners Flo and Patti preparing some cucumbers and chillies to be planted and watered by participants. Brondesbury Park was the first of what is now 22 and will be 40 community gardens across Overground station platforms.   
Hopping on and off Energy Garden station platforms, Agamemnon Otero, CEO of Repowering, shared how Energy Gardens support BiodiversityAir Quality, and Community Wellbeing. Energy Gardens involve schools, work with established community groups, and provide paid AQA accredited training programmes to London youth.
Otero shared how important it was to support groups with finance, technical, legal and social frameworks so they could successfully navigate the landscape between local authorities and national owned assets like TFL and network rail. The 14 stage development process of Energy Garden and 9 stage process for social housing projects allowed members to state their concerns and help them deliver their ideas.
Otero shared the journey from the inception of Energy Garden and Banister House Solar to building, working with community groups, raising money, assessing the value of financial and social return to members and grantees. Residents, gardening enthusiast members, chefs and elder care workers were introduced as well.
With a social return on investment, Energy Garden is relevant to a multitude of charitable objectives, including encouraging social impact investing, grant making to the sector, climate change and other environmental benefits. These include the local, social, community and economic benefits, and the opportunity for impact investing with a reasonable return on investment. Click here to register your interest investing.

Energy Garden Internship: The first of its kind

What does community energy mean to you? How about community gardening?

Here at Energy Garden we envisage a cyclical development of green spaces producing food for local people, supported by renewable energy systems. This will all be owned, run and managed by the people that they serve.

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As of Spring 2017, over 20 Energy Gardens have been completed or are well underway across the London Overground Network supplying fruit, vegetables and herbs for our communities to enjoy year round. This puts in place the beginnings of a green economy; in the coming months a share offer will be launched to raise money for co-ownership of renewable energy system, which will serve to financially maintain the gardens. Money raised will also contribute to other environmental and social returns such as lessons on renewable energy & horticulture in schools.

It’s hard to believe that this time a year ago we were recruiting for the first Energy Garden internship cohort. The programme, put together by Eric Schloss and Luke Jones of Repowering, was designed to offer young people from London an insight into the world of sustainability. The interns benefitted from the experience of an organisation that helped install the first community owned solar arrays on social housing. They were also paid for their time and gained AQA Certificates – a great CV booster.

 

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Visits to rooftop solar systems in Brixton, Anaerobic Digesters at Kings Cross and community gardens across Hackney and Kensington, as well as hands-on sessions making and installing solar panels gave the interns a real grassroots experience grounded in the work that Londoners are doing in the green revolution.

Knowledge-building sessions hearing from experts such as Afsheen Rashid MBE, Co-founder of Repowering and Director of Community Energy England, and Tom Shakhli, manager of the Brixton Pound local currency movement, gave the interns a deeper understanding of social enterprise and what it means to put social aims at the heart of your business.

 

 

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Recruitment involved 2 taster sessions introducing a pool of eager candidates to the project and the course. A group of 12 interns crystallized, from all corners of London, with varying levels of experience and interest. After a first session at community venue the Hive in Dalston, the young people really began to gel as a group, and good relationships formed, with 70% of participants planning to stay in touch. 

Energy Garden places community energy and community gardening at its core, so it was essential to have the right mix of practical and theoretical learning. Understanding the community was highly important, and the interns were set two surveying activities as part of the AQA certificate modules. One involved engaging with the market traders in the world-famous Brixton Market to find out why they did (or didn’t) accept the Brixton Pound. The other activity challenged the interns to speak with commuters on the Overground Network to find out how they perceived the garden at Hampstead Heath, and whether they would be interested in getting involved. Everyone rose to the challenge; these activities can really boost young people’s sense of confidence and connection to others. This can be seen in the post-program evaluation survey results, with 100% of participants reporting an increased level of confidence in ability to engage their communities.

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The last session took place at the Cordwainers Grow garden in Hackney, where the last days of Autumn meant peas, beans and greens could be planted. Emotional good byes were said, but the seeds had been sown.

72 AQA Certificates, 3 job references, a youtube video, 4 DIY solar panels and 60 Brixton Pounds later; 12 young people had completed the world’s first ever course on community energy and gardening.