Lever Street Community Garden is a 'win-win' story. It was launched in 2013 as a project between the local community and Islington council to enable local residents to grow vegetables of their choice.
Before this, over-use of the small garden by dog owners who did not ‘pick up’ had led the council to plant the site and keep it locked. At the same time local residents who had cultivated land behind a local community centre were distressed at losing their plots when the land was required for building.
The locked garden offered an ideal opportunity for the evicted gardeners. Sufficient regeneration money was found to redesign the site and construct 17 one-metre-square raised wooden beds and lay on a water supply, while retaining much of the council’s original planting around the perimeter railings.
The gardeners organised a constitution, insurance and rules. They agreed with the council to open to the public once a month and to maintain, for a fee, the existing planting of fruit trees and bushes, over 60 types of flowering garden plant and a communal herb bed.
In a part of London more known for technology start-ups and high-rise buildings, the garden has brought together locals of all ages and backgrounds, creating new social bonds through the cultivation of tomatoes, beans, peas, onions, pumpkins, spinach and potatoes, not to mention links with a local primary school. The garden won Islington’s Lisa Pontecorvo prize in 2014.