Since the beginning of June, the Friends of Windmill Gardens have been donating fresh vegetables to the foodbank distribution centre on the nearby Blenheim Gardens estate. This weekly donation has been made possible by the generosity of the owner of Stir Coffee on Brixton Hill, the growing skills of two long-standing members of FoWG’s gardening group, and the innovative Incredible Edible Lambeth and Myatts Field Park growing projects.
Earlier in the season one of our gardening group members was given several trays of beetroot, lettuce, spinach and spring onion seedlings grown in the Myatts Field Park greenhouse. These seedlings were being distributed to encourage local people to grow their own fresh vegetables to eat. When the pandemic hit it seemed obvious to our two volunteer gardeners that any extra vegetables harvested should be donated to households suffering food poverty exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown.
So when Incredible Edible Lambeth introduced another project to supply seeds, seed trays and compost to anyone with some spare ground, whether it was in a garden or pots on a balcony or just a window box, and who wanted to grow fresh veg, our second volunteer got involved.
Since receiving these donations of seeds and seedlings our two gardeners have carefully tended the seedlings, nurtured seeds sown in many trays, and then planted them out to grow to maturity. Without using any chemicals, they have dealt with the problems of slugs, snails and black fly as well as increasingly bold pigeons, not to mention foxes and squirrels, to protect the plants as they grew.
The result has been a steady stream of lovely fresh produce washed and delivered to the Blenheim Gardens Resident Management Organisation distribution centre every Wednesday morning, to add to the Brixton Windmill Flour that FoWG donates and the crates of donated food from the central Brixton distribution point. All donations together are made into food parcels delivered to over 60 households in need on the Blenheim Gardens estate.
In early June we started delivering beetroot, lettuces, rainbow radishes, kohlrabi, spinach and spring onions (large and small). Throughout July we harvested red and white cabbages, large bunches of chard (green and rainbow) as well as bundles of cavolo nero, Russian kale, lots of fresh green salad leaves and wild rocket and even some rhubarb. More recently cucumbers, courgettes and beans – both runners and French climbing beans – have been added to the weekly delivery plus red and white onions. Now the tomatoes are starting to ripen they will be harvested, along with potatoes.
To encourage growing at home we have also delivered plants and herbs in pots. These have been distributed with the food parcels as we know that successfully growing plants to maturity is very satisfying and children in particular love to nurture plants and watch them grow and develop.
We hope that fostering an interest in growing fresh food will mean that children – and some of the adults in their families – will come and help us plant up the new terraced growing area currently being built for FoWG by Father Nature in Windmill Gardens.
This growing space at the west end of the new Brixton Windmill Centre will be a place for local residents and particularly children to get involved in growing projects and experience the satisfaction of nurturing a plant to maturity and then learn the best way to cook it in the state of the art kitchen in the new building!