Urban Farming is an important mechanism for the capitals’ residents to grow fresh produce on unused and cultivated land.
The main aims of urban farming is to create awareness about the importance of fresh produce, to create a better lifestyle for residents and to teach others about its advantages.
Across a number of unused and derelict sites in West London, Cultivate London aims to provide employment opportunities for the young unemployed.
They have an industrial looking flat nursery, which enables growers to produce herbs and vegetables.
“putting people in a positive setting”
In January I interviewed Adrienne Attorp, the General Manager of Cultivate London, who told me about the importance of giving a second chance to the young unemployed, and how they can get involved with Urban Farming. She enforced that it is “putting people in a positive setting”
Cultivate London is mainly for those aged between 16-24. They use volunteers who have experienced long term unemployment or did not do very well in school to enable them to learn a variety of skills which includes urban farming.
Attorp explained that the young unemployed who they hire are able to sell the produce that is grown on the Cultivate London sites to farmers markets and local retailers, to enable them to engage with members of the local community.
“young people can gain skills”
While Attorp said that urban farming is secondary to Cultivate London’s aim of reducing youth unemployment, she championed that it is crucial for them to deliver urban farming for their youth training programme. This is to ensure numerous opportunities so that “young people can gain skills applicable” for the working world.
This is further an opportunity to mitigate unemployment in West London and develop educational opportunities for the people who are hired by Cultivate London.
Attorp told me that with the benefit of social enterprise and the support of external grant funding they generate as much running income as they can through the sale of the plants they grow.
On the whole three to four trainees are hired from the scheme and a fourth hired externally. With the help of a local funder they will also be able to hire eight interns (three-month paid placements) over the course of the coming year.
“an apprentice lost four stone”
Though their aim is not to tackle obesity, in one of the young people’s first year ‘an apprentice lost four stone’ from working on their urban farms.
This shows how effective Urban Farming is for a better well-being, self-sufficiency and helps cultivate and prolong the fertilisation of the soil and surrounding land used.
It is also an opportunity for social interaction and helps the local community engage with one another.