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.

 

Energy Garden Ale: Beer from the Overground!

Introducing the Energy Garden Ale, an English Pale Ale made with golden hops straight from Brondesbury Park Overground! The beer was brewed at U Brew, an open brewery in the heart of London. What makes this beer special is that it is brewed with fresh hops from the Energy Garden, whereas most beers are made with dried hops.

 

You can watch the video to see the steps in making Energy Garden Ale!

 

Brondesbury Park Station Update

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It's been just under a year since our community consultation at Brondesbury Park station, and thanks to the hard work of local residents, station staff, volunteers and the Green Team, it has become a community garden filled with flowers and vegetables, a solar powered pump, compost bin, and hedge hog hut. You can help out as you pass through by weeding, watering, and putting plant matter into the compost bin to enrich the soil.

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Currently, vegetables such as broad beans, tri-colour pak choy, and lettuce are growing in and will soon be ready for harvest. In the past, hops, broccoli, carrots, aubergines, strawberries and raspberries have been grown and harvested here. These were made into quiches, samosas and more, and the hops were even brewed into beer!

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Spring flowers are also supporting honey bees and bumble bees, which are under threat in London and play a key role in supporting our food production. We're looking forward to more growth and flowers with warmer weather!

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Growth at Caledonian Road & Barnsbury living wall

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The living wall at Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Overground is filling in with growth! Ferns such as polypodium vulgare trap particles and improve air quality along the platform, while heuchra caramel, lime, and palace purple provide year round color and flowers that attract bees during the spring and summer.

 

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You'll also find Stachys byzantina, known as Lamb's Ear for its shape and soft texture. It's commonly grown for children's gardens and its leaves were historically used as wound dressings.

 

 

 

 

All these plants will keep filling out the wall, so be sure to visit next time you're at the station!

 

Clapton Complete!

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The Energy Garden Green team has completed another Energy Garden at Clapton station! Introducing soil in planters to the station increases the diversity of organisms, which can lead to a higher density of wildlife and improved biodiversity. These little plants will grow into a lush garden so make sure to check on its progress on your commute!