Permaculture in London

The following article is not mine, but is nevertheless worth placing here. Ed Inett has sent me news of a wonderful new garden in London, established on a plot formerly covered by rubbish. It's being run as 'permaculture' - permenent agriculture - a way of using land with minimal disturbance to the natural environment.

    Gardening from the heart

    We’ve all walked around beautiful and eye catching gardens that have inspired us to do more in our own back yards. One company in the heart of London is doing something special. (Click on the thumbnails for full size pictures)

    the Alara garden in mid-London ............ the Alara garden in mid-London - enjoying the sun

    Alex Smith is the director of Alara, an organic muesli company based in the heart of London. Alara is one of the UK’s largest muesli producers (producing 70 tonnes a week), but they have always stuck closely to their principles, and kept the health of the environment at the forefront of their developments.

    Alara have become the first UK company to be registered zero waste: that is to say nothing is thrown away; everything is reused. They were the first cereal company in the world to sell Fairtrade products and they have been at the forefront of the organic movement in that sector.

    One remarkable achievement is their creation of a Permaculture garden in the heart of London.

    Behind Alara’s warehouses is a strip of land which until 2 years ago was disused and derelict. It was an eyesore and a health hazard, filled with fly tipped rubbish and rubble.

    Alara decided to do something useful with it, and with help from local people carried out a huge amount of labour. They got rid of fifty tonnes of rubbish, and established a wonderful garden. Just look at the pictures; they speak for themselves.

    Permaculture - unaccustomed as I am to physical labour................ Permaculture - new garden on an old rubbish tip

    Since the project began the space has been transformed - last December they planted 50 young trees and shrubs, and in the spring this year they planted a further 30 plants. The garden is also home to 2 compost bins, 2 wormeries and 3 beehives tended by a local apiarist.

    The garden provides organic food, and is a place for locals and Alara employees to enjoy.

    Permaculture is the using of perennial agricultural systems which mimic the structure and interrelationship found in natural ecologies. The agriculture is intended to create permanent high-yielding ecosystems, so that humans can thrive on as little land as possible. Each place needs its own unique design and planting because no two plots are identical.Community and employee participation in the garden has been strongly encouraged, with much of the planting done by volunteers recruited through links with local volunteer organisations such as the Jubilee Waterside Centre, BTCV, London CRN, Camley Street Natural Park and Camden Composting Network.

    the Alara garden in mid-London

    The garden acts as an illustration of what we should all be doing – reducing waste, growing more, and making our environment a more pleasant place. With everything from pomegranates to honey being produced in the garden, perhaps other local people will be inspired to do similar things with their own plots.

    The garden is an ongoing project and Alara plan to open it up to local school groups to teach them about where food comes from, organic food production, healthy eating, and environmental issues like climate variability and peak oil.

    Alex hopes that the garden is something he can develop and promote, through his role as London Leader of Sustainability. It would be good if other companies could instigate similar projects.

    Alex has set himself another task - increasing the amount of land in Kings Cross used to grow and produce food. This will be a challenge in one of London’s busiest commuter districts!

    For more information on Alara please visit www.alara.co.uk or contact Ed Inett – edinett@newchaptermarketing.co.uk

Edited by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website.
Photographs supplied by Ed Inett and used by permission.

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