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Residents turn Finsbury estate into green oasis

PUBLISHED: 12:33 31 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:10 14 October 2010

RESIDENTS on a Finsbury estate have reclaimed unused land and are mucking in to grow fruit and vegetables under a new council scheme.

RESIDENTS on a Finsbury estate have reclaimed unused land and are mucking in to grow fruit and vegetables under a new council scheme.

Last year Chris Kimberly, 49, was inspired to roll up his sleeves by the beautiful hanging baskets created by one of his neighbours on the Whitecross Estate, off Chequer Street.

He tried his hand at growing his own food and flowers, and once other residents saw how well he was doing, they got involved – and the Whitecross Goes Green gardening club was born.

Mr Kimberly said: “The estate looked like a concrete jungle. I started growing flowers in window boxes with the help of my neighbours.We then thought wouldn’t it be nice to grow our own vegetables.

“We’ve now got runner beans and jasmine flowers growing around the estate and we’ve even planted miniature silver birch trees.

“We now have beautiful rose beds all around the square and our neighbours have window boxes so they can plant lettuce if they want.”

Not only does the estate look better now, but Chris said the gardening club has even fostered new friendships.

“The residents love it,” he said. “They used to come home and shut their front doors. Nobody knew anyone. They now say hello to each other. We have barbecues in the square and we’re hoping more people come and join in next year. We’re getting the community spirit going, as there was none before.”

The Whitecross Estate is taking part in the Edible Estates competition which has so far helped to create 65 growing spaces in Islington.

Edible Estates aims to get people to make use of unused land to grow their own food, and residents who do so successfully can win prizes including £250 gift cards, tool sets, training and practical help and advice.

Rosie Boycott, chairwoman of London Food, which spearheads the Capital Growth programme of which Edible Estates is a part, said: “The Edible Estates competition is now an added incentive for Islington residents to get the food-growing bug.

“Growers can also can reap huge benefits for the community by helping to beautify unused and unloved spots, as well as to generate pride in an area and great community spirit.”

l The closing date for the Edible Estates competition is September 15. For more details you can visit www.capitalgrowth.org/edible- estatescompetition


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