… almost literally after my stint of visiting some urban gardens today as part of London “Open House” weekend. I decided I’d like to find out what the increasingly popular practice of urban agriculture is really all about.
Allotment gardens have been around in urban areas in many countries for a very long time, originally to feed people in the community in times of hardship. During the world wars Victory Gardens “sprouted” everywhere as people tried to provide as much for themselves as possible to help reduce the pressure on food production that was destined to support the war effort. Nowadays it seems to be quite a community oriented choice to reclaim green spaces and to provide places for people to grow and share vegetables and fruits. Some even keep bees … which means honey … yum.
I found one in the programme that sounded particularly interesting and set off with the Doll in tow to the Kingsland Basin on Regents Canal in Hackney to visit the one of a kind “floating allotment”.
The garden is on an old barge and is totally fabulous. It’s looked after by the residents of a community of mostly canal boat owners, their pets, and their friends who live on their boats moored in the basin around the garden, who were all very friendly and welcoming. They use the totally organic produce they grow for pop up cafes and open days.
There are apple trees, a fig tree, artichokes, pumpkins, tomatoes, vegetables of all kinds, herbs, berries and flowers all growing on the boat and they all look so healthy and robust and delicious.
water from the canal plays a large part with its high nutrient content. On a little “island” just beyond the barge some beehives are just starting to come on stream so there wasn't any honey ready this time (small sob).
The allotment is also home to a flock of domestic ducks – they even have their own duck house and enclosure the back of the barge where they live at night and lay their eggs. The eggs are used in baking the cakes and biscuits that you can enjoy when you visit … I did and they were delicious indeed.
If you are in London today (Sunday) the floating allotment is open again and well worth a visit - as a bonus you can also go on-board some of the canal boats as well, and find out what it’s like to live on one.