Energy Garden

Energy Garden supports communities to build green spaces, grow food and encourage biodiversity around transport infrastructure.

500,000
Est. number of people
who benefit directly

Energy Garden's story

Energy Garden empowers local communities across London’s boroughs to build greener spaces in and around their London Overground station. They make it happen by negotiating the legal permissions of multiple transport partners to create new urban gardens, funding staff to oversee the development of these gardens, buying the necessary materials and equipment for local people to use, as well as running education programmes to engage schools and more community members.

All the gardens in their network are run by and for the communities that use the stations. Over 100 groups across London are engaged in the Energy Garden programme and over 300 people are involved on a regular basis with Energy Garden across 34 gardens. But the impact is much wider: the average station sees 15,000 passenger visits a day and the benefits have been recognised by Transport for London (TfL) whose reports show that stations with Energy Gardens consistently have the highest Customer Services Scoring across the rail network.

Energy Gardens operate at the intersect of some of the most pressing issues of urban living – the environment, health and wellbeing and renewable energy. They actively seek businesses that have rooftop space and are interested in developing solar PV infrastructure to benefit their business and the wider community. The revenue from sale of solar PV energy helps to support the urban gardens programme and community projects.

The benefits of the programme are multi-faceted, and include:

• Tackling air pollution by introducing plants on the Overground: native hedgerows, leafy ferns and living walls absorb floating particles, improving the local air quality.

• Planting gardens with herbs, vegetables and fruit trees where appropriate. Some gardens even grow hops for beer, and all proceeds from ‘Energy Garden Ale’ go back into funding garden operations.

• Installing low-carbon energy systems and generating clean renewable energy that reduces the need for fossil fuels and reduces their consumption at stations.

• Improving urban biodiversity: wildflower meadows, pollinating plants, insect and bird habitats can be found at multiple stations, demonstrating the viability of biodiversity in urban development strategies.

• Running school workshops and a paid youth training programme to get future community leaders interested in, and equipped with, the skills needed for a more resilient future.

Energy Gardens aims to add more gardens every year and branch out to wider UK communities. Local communities are invited to participate in the programme, with Energy Gardening providing them with the financial, legal and technical support to bring new urban gardens into being.

What have you learnt that others will find most useful?

  • Community groups are the core.
  • There is no ‘one size fits all’ garden: every station’s garden is a reflection of the community that lives and travels there.
  • People see the station in a fresh light and have a much greater sense of ownership and pride in the place.

Measures of success?

Awareness: To raise awareness of environmental issues such as climate change, fossil fuel dependency and renewable energy solutions. Inspiration: To create community infrastructure that brings inspiration, cohesion, and concrete examples of what solutions can look like. Resilience: To support communities to cultivate resilience, cohesion, innovation and hope.

Read more: https://www.energygarden.org.uk/

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