The phenomenon of “urban gardening” is growing across the world – and it’s taking off in EC1. St Luke’s Community Centre on Central Street has the innovative Edible Yard – until recently a dead concrete space and now a thriving culinary garden where fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown, and where eggs are laid by five resident hens and then supplied to service users, volunteers and community members.
The Yard is maintained using organic methods by St Luke’s own team, helped by volunteers, and the food is grown in containers. It aims to encourage other urban gardeners, emphasising that even in urban environments food can be grown anywhere from gardens and back yards to windowsills and balconies.
The message is getting through, as the Centre recently won no fewer than three awards for its community gardening initiatives: Gold Award in the Islington in Bloom Competition; Gold Award for London in Bloom 2019 and Outstanding in Britain in Bloom – It’s Your Neighbourhood.
“We’re thrilled, and it’s thanks to our volunteer gardening groups that keep our green areas thriving,” says Poppy Fishman, community gardening manager at the centre. “They’re friendly, social groups, and we always welcome new faces. We have indoor space in our large greenhouse to garden during the winter months.”
If you’re interested in helping, St Luke’s garden group at Edible Yard meet twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 2-4pm all year round: as Poppy says, “There’s still lots to do in the colder weather.”
The tasks include nurturing the green spaces at St Luke’s, including the Edible Yard food growing area, the woodland garden and the terrace garden. On Tuesdays, the potted flowers and shrubs are maintained while on Thursdays the group work in the Edible Yard, growing the organic produce. They produce supplies of fresh food from the Edible Yard for our community classes in St Luke’s Cookery School – and St Luke’s hopes to extend the growing band of urban gardeners by showing how easy and satisfying it is. “You don’t need any experience,” says Poppy. “Just come along and enjoy the benefits of gardening all year round.”
St Luke’s Community Centre, 90 Central Street EC1V 8AJ from 9am–9pm, Monday to Friday and 9am–4pm, Saturday to Sunday.
Tel 020 7549 8181