GrowingSouthwark's Blog


Potential Edible Planting around Kender St, New Cross
February 27, 2010, 8:32 pm
Filed under: campaigning, herbs, planting, street, Uncategorized

Ok-I’ve just copied and pasted this email straight from http://www.telegraphhillfestival.org.uk/localandnotsolocalevents.htm
as it is a BRILLIANT example of how to engage with your local council and enticing them into edible planting on our streets-what a great idea.
I’m hoping Daz will report back to us on this!

From: dazflint@hotmail.com
To: keith.gordon@lewisham.gov.uk
Subject: Edible Planting around Kender Street
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 15:47:09 +0000

Dear Keith,

A few weeks ago we met at the public exhibition for the Kender Street improvements. We discussed the new planting for the ‘Streets for People’ scheme and I stressed how important I think it is to include some edible varieties of street planting.

Of course you will appreciate that street planting does not just improve the aesthetic impact of an area – it also increases wildlife habitat and biodiversity, reduces the impact of flash flooding and serves to improve air quality. Street planting serves many purposes, and these must be considered together rather than in isolation. Thus it seems reasonable to add a further benefit to street planting, where this can be done at little or no extra cost – namely, providing a source of free, healthy and ‘low-carbon’ foodstuff.

I fully appreciate local authorities’ historic weariness of fruit-trees, for example – that they are seen as more troublesome than none-fruiting varieties. But the majority of fruit trees will produce without specialist pruning or other care. The impact of fruit-fall need be no greater than that of leaf- and flower-shedding, and fallen fruits are quickly consumed by urban wildlife. In the past, local authorities acted according to a different set of priorities. Today, food security, energy reduction and healthy, sustainable lifestyles are high on the agenda. Edible urban planting can make a significant local improvement in all these regards, and Lewisham Council increasingly seeks to achieve best practice on issues of environment and sustainability.

There are other ways to bring edible planting into the urban realm. Borders and grassed areas can be edged with fruiting shrubs such as raspberries and blackcurrants. There are several very tidy, well-behaved varieties available which will not spread, do not require pruning to fruit and will not over-produce. If flower-beds are to be maintained, highly attractive edible varieties such as courgettes and nasturtiums can be used. Finally, culinary herbs make for effective, low-maintenance planting.

It isn’t the case that everybody has to come out into the street picking fruit constantly. Rather, the point is to create an additional benefit that can be tapped into if required, without costing extra resources. Any food that isn’t harvested simply encourages local biodiversity and attracts increased wildlife (such as birds onto fruiting shrubs). This is not a loss, but rather an alternative benefit to be had. Once again, I insist that fruiting trees or edible flowers can be planted at no or negligible extra cost compared to non-edible types – there is nothing to be lost and much to be gained. A single apple tree can last a lifetime and produce literally tonnes of fruit for the local community.

I hope that you will take these comments on board and seek to incorporate elements of edible planting into the ‘Streets for People’ works. I would be absolutely delighted to clarify any of these points or to advise more specifically on different types of edible planting suited to different contexts. You might also consult Rich Far and Sean McBride (Lewisham’s Street Trees Officers, whom I am sure you know). Nick Pond, Lewisham’s Ecological Regeneration Manager may advise on other technical issues whilst the London Orchard Project should be able to give further advice on fruit tree varieties that are particularly suited to (and indeed have been bred for) London.

I hope that these suggestions are well-recieved and that you will take every effort to act upon
them.

With kind regards,

Darren Flint

Darren then says:
Dear Transition Town friends,

You may be interested to read the above email, which I have sent to Keith Gordon at Lewisham council. He is a landscape architect responsible for the streetscape improvements that will be done around the Kender Street Triangle, under the ‘Streets for People’ banner. Please note that Keith is not responsible for the major TfL works that are redesigning the main roads around New Cross Gate and Kender – his remit will be to redevelop the newly-formed ‘back streets’ such as Kender Street itself. My hope is that he will include elements of edible planting into the basic design, which has already been drawn up and was on display at Kender Primary School a few weeks ago. If anybody else thinks that edible street planting in New Cross is a good idea, please consider contacting Keith to add your support.

-Darren Flint (Lewisham Green Party, candidate for Telegraph Hill}.