Over the past few years the skies in urban spaces are looking more green than blue, with more and more people making the most of their outdoor space – be it a balcony, a window box or a roof-top. Here at The Balcony Gardener we’ve experienced the joys of gardening in small spaces and exploring the opportunities of mixing pots and planters, growing herbs on our window sill and sitting in our urban oasis. The trend is growing and turning into a fully-fledged “green revolution,” more and more green spots are popping up across cities.
In many American cities local businesses are offered tax subsidies if they cover their roofs with plants, the Chicago chef Rick Bayless uses tomatoes and chilies he grows atop his restaurant Frontera Grill to make Rooftop Salsa. Whilst in New York City, the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a 6000 square-floor organic vegetable farm on top of a warehouse in Brooklyn. And in Manhattan, the High Line park is built on a section of an abandoned elevated railway line that runs along the lower west side. It is as an aeriel greenway in an area of New York that previously was bare of green spaces, the plants and vegetation chosen for the park pay homage to the wild plants that had previously taken over the abandoned railway.
This green activity is not strictly tied to our cousins across the pond, here in London green spots are popping up in imaginative spaces and are feeding community projects.In Dalston, the social enterprise company Bootstrap runs a roof park on top of a community-owned building. They grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants – in an area that previously had less than one-tenth of the national recommended amount of green open space. King Alfred’s School in Golder’s Green, is now proud owners of a circle of green roofs around one of the playgrounds, the school also has their own beehives providing school-grown honey. Budgens supermarket in Crouch End is working with the charity Food From the Sky and volunteers are growing produce on the rooftop garden. The charitable restaurant Acorn House in King’s Cross has converted their own rooftop to a vegetable garden providing ingredients for their own dishes, it doesn’t come more locally sourced than that! They then convert all their food waste into compost for the garden.
It’s easy to become part of the green revolution, arm yourself with some grenades – and get growing!
Our favourite green spaces in London:
Cocktails at Kensington Roof Gardens: www.roofgardens.virgin.com
Dinner at Acorn House: www.acornhouserestaurant.com
Views across Dalston: www.bootstrapcompany.co.uk/13_dalston_roof_park
Supermarket roof garden in Crouch End: www.foodfromthesky.org.uk