The Edible Bus Stop

The Edible Bus Stop: www.theediblebusstop.org

If you were to take the number 322 bus along Landor Road in Lambeth towards Brixton and alight at the stop for Lambeth Hospital, you will be greeted by a celebration of  green. A few months ago when the sun was shining – (well we like to pretend that it was anyhow), there were round pumpkins, towering sun flowers, giant red cabbages, blossoming raspberry bushes and deep green courgette plants. You have arrived at the Edible Bus Stop.

The Edible Bus Stop: www.theediblebusstop.org

Local resident Mak Gilchrist had watched the derelict wasteground next to the bus stop with dismay, occasionally it had been the backdrop for some guerilla gardening – which we’re big fans of at the Balcony Gardener! – a few local residents planting old seeds and other plants that would have gone to waste. Inspired by this and fearful of development plans, Mak put together 400 leaflets through doors seeing if people would be interested in creating a local community garden project and whether people would be able to donate either their time or plants. Mak had a fantastic response, and after a donation from the Clarence House sustainable garden programme – the Start organisation that we featured a few months ago, she was able to organise a series of Sunday digs to start work on the wasteground. At the first dig forty people turned up!

The Edible Bus Stop: www.theediblebusstop.org

The enthusiasm and momentum for the edible bus stop has never stopped, the mission is simple: “to create a lush organic growing space for edibles and non-edibles.” The volunteers have received backing from a supportive local councillor who encouraged the landowner Lambeth Council to allow the volunteers to develop the land. The buzz of community spirit is alive, such was the fervor and eagerness of the local residents that they organised a local street party in August to celebrate the opening and blossom of the Edible Bus Stop, and neighbours have started to help each other with their own gardens. “The Bus Stop has literally opened doors on the street,” Mak says. “It has become our very own urban village green.” The garden is so loved in the local community that it has not fallen victim to vandalism or vegetable poaching, as Mak explains “The patients in the hospital opposite the garden are like our security guards – they keep watch when we’re not here!”

The Edible Bus Stop: www.theediblebusstop.org

The Edible Bus Stop is hoping to spread the initiative across London, encouraging other local communities to revitalise their own bus stops. They already have their eyes on a bus stop in West Norwood further along the same 322 bus route, and the Edible Bus Stop has just been accepted onto the Mayor of London’s street tree project funding ideas to create an inner city orchard. “I never imagined the smile it would bring to the whole neighbourhood,” says Mak. “There’s a sense of pride even from the younger generation. I’ve overheard them telling their friends ‘my mum planted that’. People truly love it.”