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Archive for January, 2012

This week I climbed up to the roof of Thornton’s Budgens supermarket in Crouch End, N.London, and discovered three fantastic enthusiastic volunteers gardening at ‘Food from the Sky’. If you want to improve your gardening knowledge and have some time you can spare, then what better way to learn than to volunteer.

The  roof top scheme is the brainchild of Azule-Valerie Thome, and now employs an urban farmer, Jack Aspery (above), who directs the horticultural activities once a week, every Friday.

Ayako Tokumine volunteers on Wednesday mornings, every week from 10a.m-1p.m. and on Fridays too alongside Jack. She loves the gardening and feels she greatly benefits from Jack’s shared expertise. When not volunteering, Ayako translates English into Japanese and is interested in environmental and conservation science. She’s also researching insects that come to the roof and developing ideas for organic pest control.

Ed Brooker works as a personal tutor, but loves being involved with ‘Food from the sky’. He’s helping to develop a template to share with other growing projects, acting as a transferable model that other supermarkets could follow.
Vincent McGarry, a retired radio and TV journalist, really enjoys getting involved with the practical demands of roof gardening.
He’s helped build the bottle greenhouse, above, and is continuing to work on ideas to put a roof on the structure that will be able to withstand the elements at such a height.

At the moment, the lovely decorative mustard leaf ‘Green Frills’ is doing well inside the greenhouse,

alongside some Land Cress (Barbarea verna, above)

and some Winter Marvel lettuce.

There’s an impressive array of salad leaves growing merrily away outside the greenhouse for January too, such as Mibuna above, and all the salad leaves are harvested once a week in winter and sold in the supermarket below. How great is that! Areas are being prepared now for growing tomatoes and beans which will go on sale at Budgens later on in the year.

I feel I’ve learned a lot too from my brief visit to this amazing gardening space. At the moment I have a large amount of self-seeded Rocket at my allotment, aided by our incredibly mild winter this year. But seeing what has been achieved by the gardeners at ‘Food from the sky’ has really inspired me to plan ahead for plenty of late summer salad sowings, so that I too will be harvesting interesting and tasty leaves all winter long.

If you fancy volunteering at ‘Food from the sky’, sessions are on Wednesdays 10a.m.-1p.m. working with Azule, the first Saturday of every month from 10a.m.-3p.m. and Fridays 8a.m.-4p.m.working with Jack.

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