On my cycle ride to our studio, on the border between Shoreditch
and the City of London, just a few hundred meters away from the newest
skyscrapers, I pass through some of the country’s most forward thinking and audacious
They embody the manifesto hailed by post-peak oil gardener
activists. These tiny gardens are so
perfectly adapted to the dense urban environment and to climate change that their
plentiful harvests laugh at the shade and rain shadows imposed by buildings.
Audaciously borrowing otherwise redundant council owned
land, mostly without asking it appears, these gardeners use adjacent trees or
drain pipes to support climbers and figs, or trellis canopies made of old
bedsteads for their squashes and vines, and unrecognisable spinaches and greens as dense groundcover.
Here are the multi-tiered forest gardens Mark Laurence has asked us asked to
adopt. Here are the Climate Change crops that Mark Diacono advises us to choose
over potatoes and carrots. Ingeniously using only found or recycled
materials the only costs are the seeds and soil improvers.
So who are these innovators nestled amongst the art and
design community in Shoreditch? These are the gardens of the first generation
They’re not aware that their common sense is our avant-garde.
For them it’s never made sense to leave bare soil between rows of spinach as it
means more weeding, watering and essential nutrients washing away. They
appreciate how precious every patch of land is and fulfil it’s potential in a
way that we’ll have to mimic as urban environments become further populated.
I say first generation Bangladeshi as the next generation on
the whole prefer not to be associated with the vegetable gardens of their
parents and grandparents. These teenagers and young professionals see these
admittedly messy gardens, inferring a certain level of poverty, as something
they’d like to escape from.
However, for those of us hoping to
take advantage of the scattered pockets of redundant land throughout the urban
environment their skills and knowledge are a resource to
N.B. Photos taken in