Community Space for Growing In

By Mhairi Weir, Spitalfields City Farm

Space a common dictionary definition –
“An extent or expanse of a surface or three-dimensional area”

Space has always been an issue and I am talking physical space, there is never enough of it, we fight over it, we cherish it, we abuse it, we take it for granted and we do not like people who are not invited coming into our space, and so the list goes on.

Living and working in London where any piece of “spare” ground can become a towering block of “luxury apartments” almost overnight, the little pockets of green space we have are to be nurtured and used by all. Please do not think that London is devoid of such spaces. If you look closely you will find quite a few of them. But what is perhaps most surprising is that the majority of these spaces are used for growing food on. This can range from your own little allotment (highly prized) to growing in a small space on your balcony in a pot. There is really nothing more satisfying than seeing the miracle of planting a seed/seedling growing into a potato, a tomato etc. And of course it will taste way better than if bought in any shop. All it takes is a space, the seed, earth, manure for feed and of course attention to ensure that it is free from pests and allowed to bloom. Yet, without space we would not be able to enjoy this miracle of growth. So therefore it is so important to use the existing spaces we have and to ensure that as little as possible is lost.

Space not only allows for the growth of plants but the growth of people and communities. They act as beacons for people to meet and share stories, the time of day, growing and just enjoying the space for what it is: a little bit of green in a busy, very polluted city. Space needs people to come together and care for it and protect it, to form alliances to use the space and to share whatever it produces.

Here at Spitalfields City Farm it remains my primary purpose to allow all of these things and more to happen in and on our space. Sharing not only the space but also sharing seeds, planting and then the joy of cooking and sharing what has been grown. Not only are we in danger of losing our space to grow, but all the varieties of what can be grown. That is why it is so exciting to have the seed library on site and yet another reason for people to engage with the space.

So, I suggest that you look around and you will be amazed at all the spaces that are used and if you see one unused and unloved, ask your neighbour/friend if they would help to save this space.