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Council volunteers start new urban food growing scheme at offices

Green fingered council workers got their hands dirty this weekend setting up a new urban food growing project and garden at their offices.

The volunteers plan to turn an unpromising, grey concrete area at the council’s offices in Shakespeare Road into a flourishing allotment site growing fruit and vegetables. The group have a zero budget for the project and are committed to only using recycled products and materials that would have otherwise gone to landfill.

They started this Saturday by building raised beds and prepared the soil in readiness for planting in the spring.

They hope that in time the project will inspire local people to re-think their rubbish as well as getting into the food growing habit and want to get nearby residents involved. They also hope that some of the space can be offered to the neighbouring Evelyn Grace Academy in a bid to get schoolchildren to go green.

Pawel Ryczan, a Lambeth Council sustainable waste officer, said: “The site is currently a rather uninspiring barren concrete wasteland, but by summer we hope it will be transformed.

“Everyone taking part will be helping out in their spare time. We are looking for new ways to encourage residents to reuse and recycle more, we’ll be using compost created from food and garden waste donated by Aardvark and Veolia, rainwater from the building’s roof and tools donated by staff. Beds and pots will be anything from discarded scaffold planks and old tyres to cans, plastic pots or hand bags”.

Councillor Sally Prentice, Cabinet Member for Environment on Lambeth Council, said: “Staff across the council are taking steps to cut their carbon emissions and reduce energy use. This is a fantastic project and I hope others can take inspiration from it.”

Pawel is one of 30 Lambeth Council Environmental Champions, staff who encourage their colleagues to act environmentally responsibly.

Lambeth launched its Big Difference Campaign last month to encourage everyone to reduce waste, save energy and money. See www.lambeth.gov.uk/bigdifference.

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