Thursday, 29 May 2008

The Greening of Middlesbrough

There was an item on Radio 4 today about a revolutionary experiment in Middlesbrough in which derelict urban spaces have been transformed into fertile vegetable plots. 1,000 residents as well as schools, mental health hospitals, residential care homes and retailers were given seed and advised on how to grow them. The aim was to increase awareness of food miles, improve health and regenerate the city. The gardeners celebrated the end of the project with a communal meal in which 8,000 people shared the food they had grown.
The inspiration came from Havana where, in order to beat the American blockade, locals took over waste land and used it to grow fresh fruit and vegetables. Monty Don visited Cuba for his series Around the World in 80 Gardens and I remember being impressed with the sense of community these urban allotments generated.

Perhaps this is the way forward us city dwellers who have lost touch with where our food comes from and what it means to share with our neighbours?

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