To complete a triangulation of London, I visited Enfield in the North and the home of an ambitious plan, Garden Enfield, set out by Enfield Borough Council and seeking to courage training and employment within horticulture and food production in Enfield and neighbouring Lee Valley.
My visit was to the Forty Hall Farm site just outside Enfield itself. The farm is an organic operation run, and used for teaching, by Capel Manor College, the only further education college in London specialising in learning about the environment. Its a mixed arable and livestock farm with a variety of animals, including many rare breeds and home to Forty Hall Community Vineyard, as well as a community orchard, a forest garden and a market garden. The Borough council are working with Forty Hall Farm to create a centre that promotes and celebrates local, sustainable food, and so acts as the focal point to the Garden Enfield project.
Garden Enfield has seen the establishment of a new market garden project at the farm, where paid growers, volunteers and Capel Manor students work together to grow and sell vegetables through the Enfield Veg Co., a marketing entity set up within the Garden Enfield project. The day I was there, growers Beth and Matt, along with a number of volunteers were busy with the first outdoor seed sowing of the year. Also, reflecting the ambition of the Garden Enfield plan, two large brand new polytunnels were being erected.
It is planned that Forty Hall will be the location for testing of innovative ideas and working with new technologies, such as solar power and heat capture from the decomposition of the green waste to heat the covered growing areas, and rainwater capture, to reduce the costs of growing. The results will be shared with the membership of Garden Enfield
Garden Enfield though extends well beyond Forty Hall Farm. There are, for example, many other community projects all over the borough, from housing estates to parks which are being encouraged to be a component of the overall scheme. Even individual veg gardens can be registered in the scheme! Ambitiously the Council is also exploring opportunities to re-establish commercial growing in the Borough and seeking out opportunities to support large scale commercial growing.
There is a long history of agriculture and horticulture in Enfield and the Lee valley and which played an important role in how Enfield has developed. With its vision for local food production, Enfield Council must be congratulated and wished every success in achieving its objective of revitalising the food sector and generating employment in the borough in an energy efficient and sustainable way. Big question would seem to be one of why more Councils can’t do this!!!
For more on Garden Enfield, see the programme’s website.
For more on the history of food production in Enfield, use the link here
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