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Growing your own in the cityPrint

Location: Acton, London

“People shouldn't have to walk more than 500 yards or so to get to a space where they can grow something,” says Sarah Milner-Simonds. This is the guiding principle behind The People's Plot.

It all stared two years ago when the marketing manager-turned-gardener was called upon to look after a community allotment in South Acton. "It's a green oasis in the middle of an estate of tower blocks, currently undergoing the largest social-housing regeneration process in Europe," Sarah explains. "The blocks have been demolished and rebuilt around the little allotment, which seems dwarfed in comparison."

Nevertheless the plot plays a big role. "People who didn't feel as though the green space around them was theirs can come to the plot and experiment and share a piece of nature with their neighbours," says Sarah. "I do think that makes a difference and I do know that every penny that's spent on food is counted here, and every penny that's saved by growing something is very much valued."

From the very beginning the allotment was about more than simply growing veg. It soon became a "social, eating together thing." Evening workshops are held throughout autumn and winter, cookery skills are shared and parties and events held throughout the year draw in over a hundred.

With so much growing and eating going on, the People's Plot has become a focal point of the local community where its members can come together, and grow together. "The allotment has doubled in size and acts as a sanctuary for residents" says Sarah. "It's somewhere nature is thriving and the community can enjoy."

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