London Councils staff have created a fully-fledged rooftop gardening club
If you’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek of London Councils' rooftop, you’ll notice there’s a lot more going on besides the incredible panoramic views of Bankside. With Tate Modern, St Paul’s and the Shard looming over, you might also spot the odd tomato and courgette growing on their roof garden.
The inspiration for the project first sprouted in 2014 when a member of staff decided to grow tomato plants on the roof terrace outside his office window. Cut to three years later and London Councils staff have created a fully-fledged gardening club comprised of ten colleagues who occasionally devote their lunch breaks to maintaining this innovative outdoor space.
Taking some initial direction from Bankside Urban Forest who provided the team with greening and sustainability tips, they split the rooftop into two key areas – the ‘market garden’ and the ‘decorative garden.’
From the outset, the scheme has very much been a collaborative and sustainable effort with materials being sourced locally. Last year, Tate Modern donated some of the planters from Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Empty Lot installation which had been displayed in the Turbine Hall. Local printer, R.K Burt supplied old pallets and two large, complimentary compost bins came from Southwark Council. All this has allowed the gardening club to plant a variety of flowers and vegetables from spring bulbs to courgettes.
What’s most impressive is that the gardening club at London Councils has been self-sufficient and used the garden produce to help fund the project. They managed to raise £120 from a work cake sale where they sold jars of green tomato chutney from the last of the season’s tomatoes. They also successfully grew sunflowers which were ‘adopted’ by their four directors. A donation from each director covered the cost of the pot plus a donation to the gardening club.
As the success of the scheme continues to grow, the whole process has encouraged London Councils to adopt other sustainable in-house practices beyond the roof garden. From introducing food recycling bins in the staff kitchen, to changing their water cooler plastic glasses to recyclable ones, the impact of the roof garden has been evident.
So this summer, when you’re walking down Southwark Street, look up – you might just spot some sunflowers peering back at you!