Kyle Baldock: Growing Home With Energy Garden
We are Energy Garden, a London-wide community benefit society made up of 30 gardens and 300 volunteers. Our aim is to support communities to cultivate resilience, cohesion, innovation and hope in a time of environmental and democratic crises. Our platform for doing this is London’s transport network: grey, unloved urban spaces with all the potential to be lovely, green and community driven. And our work is to unlock these spaces so that you can fill them with all of your grandest ideas for urban resilience. By 2022, it will all be funded by revenue from the sale of community-owned renewable energy.
Here’s how it all fits together:
To date, we have supported community groups to transform 34 stations into urban oases. The gardens are 100% community-run. These once barren stations now host food and flower-growing spaces, beehives, fruit trees, bug huts and hedgehog houses. Volunteers grow hops to brew beer, tend beehives to produce honey, and grow hundreds of kilos of veg every year to produce dishes for our annual Harvest Party. Energy Garden’s role is to work behind the scenes to facilitate the process, get permissions for land-use and provide the groups with everything they need to succeed. All that’s left to do is for you to show up with your neighbours and get digging! Find your nearest garden here.
Energy Garden can also be seen as a vehicle to deliver social impact in London’s communities. We run school workshops, citizen science surveys, art sessions and paid youth training programmes to inspire London’s future leaders. The gardens serve as touchpoints to open critical discussions around biodiversity, air quality and urban development. Our volunteers take part in regular governance sessions to discuss how we can maximise Energy Garden’s impact. We invite you to join this conversation today.
In order to make the project as sustainable as possible, we intend for the revenue from sale of solar PV energy to support all our gardens and community projects. We plan to launch a community bond offer later in 2021 that will allow everyone to invest in this community energy project, receiving a financial return alongside verified social and environmental returns. With your help, our solar panels will support London's Overground community gardens bringing huge benefits to the environment, commuters and local people. Pledge your interest to invest in Energy Garden and watch this space!
In the meantime, we are in the early phases of our major campaign for 2021: #GrowingHomeLDN. This campaign invites all Londoners to green their city from the ground up. Request a free seed packet and grow seeds on your windowsill while lockdown is still in effect. Then join your nearest gardening group: come April, we will meet at the gardens to plant out and begin tending them together in true community garden style. From there, it’s a straight shot through the summer until the Harvest Party. There will be weekly gardening days, monthly events, and quite a few moments of simply enjoying a breath of fresh air in a green space you helped create. We hope you will join us.
Kyle is the Community Engagement and Communications Lead at Energy Garden. He has five years communications experience, from P&O Ferries to the Head of Press & Media for The Association for Vertical Farming. Prior to his formal paid post, he volunteered with Energy Garden for two years. He holds a BA in Communication Studies from Western Washington University and is a graduate of the School of Systems Change at Forum for the Future.