Transport agency making side areas available for vegetable gardening


The Energy Garden at Brondesbury Park Station Glenn Copus

By Jonathan Prynn, cross-posted from the London Evening Standard 22 September 2015

After Transport for London made the spot available, charity workers transformed a windswept station platform into a thriving fruit, vegetable and flower garden to brighten up commuters’ lives.  They plan to create dozens more across London.

The “Energy Garden” at Brondesbury Park Overground station in Kilburn has been so successful that volunteers have harvested crops such as broccoli, carrots, strawberries and raspberries to cook and turn into free food for passengers.

The garden has been tended on a patch of unused land at the back of the platform by local residents, station staff and commuters.

The charities behind the idea – called Repowering London and Groundwork London – now want Londoners to nominate up to 50 other Overground stations for similar horticultural overhauls. It hopes to create a London “Good Life” version of New York’s famous High Line park – but on a working rather than an abandoned railway.

Ben Coles, director of communities & environmental services at Groundwork, said: ”There are half a million people passing through these stations on a typical weekday, why not make them nicer places to spend their dwell time, a bit of a destination rather than just a drab place to get from A to B. Transport for London have really embraced it, they want their commuters to have better experiences on platforms.”

“At Brondesbury Park volunteers have been growing vegetables and hops – enough to brew an energy garden ale – and it has really brought the station to life. It is pretty exciting when people are handing out food to commuters grown in the garden.”  Dishes created from the produce include spinach and chilli quiche, vegetable samosas, vegetable soup made from kale, potato, chilli, chard, onion and thyme and apple pie.

Groundwork London has been awarded £750,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund, set up to support charities, which will be used to buy tools and help back volunteer groups at other stations. There are also plans to install solar panels to generate energy for lighting and pumps with any surplus sold to the National Grid.

Mr Coles added: “To nominate a station and share your ideas with us you can tweet @EnergyGardenLDN using #GreenMyOverground visit or Now is the time for Londoners to show their support for their local stations and to get involved in creating their own Energy Gardens that they can enjoy whenever they use the Overground network.”

Agamemnon Otero, chief executive of Repowering London said, “Energy Garden will engage local communities in reclaiming spaces within London Overground stations to create highly visible, accessible growing hubs that will involve people all ages in the cultivation and maintenance of plants, medicinal herbs, vegetables and even hops.”

Also see: