Repowering London won an Ashden Award in 2016, we catch up with them at their energy garden launch at City Hall in London.
With green spaces increasingly in short supply in urban areas across the UK, community gardens have sprung-up as an innovative measure by volunteers from the communities they’re set in, these gardens – aside from providing locally, sustainably grown produce – have served as a setting for galvanising social action by bringing together locals of varying ages and backgrounds.
Whilst the idea itself has been around for years, a new London-based initiative has given it a modern makeover by coupling it with power-generation capacity and rainwater collection. The seeds of the idea were planted in 2011, the brainchild of Agamemnon Otero from Repowering London, a 2015 Ashden Award winner, who was inspired by his work in community gardening and community energy projects across various impoverished neighbourhoods in London.
Since the project’s formal launch at City Hall on May 1st 2015, it has evolved from humble beginnings at the Brondesbury Park overground station and aims to revitalise 40 stations nominated by Londoners by the end of the year – out of a planned total of 50. Lucky commuters have already had the chance to sample their local stations’ first fruits – including raspberries and strawberries – which are shared with volunteers and supporters, sold at local famers’ markets or donated to foodbanks. To attract a wide range of interests, gardens have bustling bee hives, birds nests, and – for the brewing enthusiasts – hops that have already gone on to make the first Energy Garden Ales.
Having won £750,000 from Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund in 2015 which kickstarted the project, the two charities behind the idea – Repowering and Groundwork – have this week launched their share offer calling on local businesses and investors to support the scheme, earning a stable return on their investments whilst giving back to their communities and contributing to a greener London.
Investing is not the only way to get involved however: businesses can also offer their unused rooftops for the installation of solar panels, and workers can get their hands dirty alongside school children through the volunteer program. Over the course of its 20 year life-span, the Energy Garden project has some big ambitions – from supporting 15 jobs and 10 youth internships to delivering 150 community gardening sessions and another 50 school sessions aimed at raising awareness around renewable energy and community gardening.
In any case, with over half a million commuters passing through their barriers everyday, the Overground stations’ new features will be sure to turn some heads.