This summer, Capital Growth (the food-growing initiative for London fronted by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and London Food Link) launched Edible Estates, a competition open to residents of London’s housing estates, encouraging them to develop food-growing spaces on the land around their homes. 40 communities took part from Greenwich to Haringey and Lambeth to Tower Hamlets, and last month, the winners were announced at a special conference. The project’s flickr album shows just how much residents managed to grow from a limited space and using mainly recycled materials.
I was lucky enough to work with the residents of the Sycamore Gardens estate in Haringey during May and June, and so I was especially pleased to hear that their garden placed third in the Plants and People category of the competition.
The Capital Growth project was inspired by the “Edible Estates” planted between 2005 and 2008, by American architect and installation artist and Fritz Haeg. Haeg’s site-specific projects are often inspired by, and serve to reconstruct, issues of ecology and domestic space, and his wide practice spans the disciplines of design, dance, performance and installation. For “Edible Estates”, part of his ongoing Gardenlab initiative, Haeg planted seven vegetable gardens in the UK and the United States, each one replacing the lawn garden of a local willing family. The first garden was planted in Salina, Kansas (the geographic centre of the United States) and commissioned by the Salina Art Centre. Subsequent gardens were planted in Lakewood, California, Maplewood, New Jersey, London (commissioned by Tate Modern in 2007), Austin, Texas (commissioned by Arthouse in 2008) and Baltimore, Maryland (commissioned by Contemporary Museum Baltimore in 2008).
Tate commissioned their Edible Estate from Haeg as part of their Summer 2007 Global Cities exhibition. He chose Brookwood House in Southwark as the site on which to redefine the role of the lawn in this residential corner of South London.
Fritz Haeg’s project is presented in full in Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn, published in 2008 by Metropolis Books, and revised in a second edition in 2010.