Tomorrow is the RSA's AGM; the house will be full of RSA Fellows here to discuss the organisation, its future and the new charter. We've decided to shamelessly exploit the presence of all these experts being in a single place on a single day by running a series of brain-picking seminars.
I'm doing one with the excellent Connected Communities project which gives me a chance to start talking about something that I've been working on for a little while now. Back in the spring I was researching the subject of artists working in productive gardens, talking to people like Fallen Fruit, Amy Francheschini - and more recently Clare Patey of Feast. There is a huge enthusiasm around for this stuff. How can we create new ways to garden? How can we create new places to garden?
That connected with an idea that was put forward by a Fellow and so we're now on the verge of launching our own project, Rethinking the community garden. The recession has meant that there is a lot of land - particularly building land - which is on hold in cities right now. How can we change the idea of gardens as permanent fixtures to something that's more flexible, something that maximises land use throughout a city turning semi-derelict land into an asset?
We want to attach that to Fellow's expertise and experience to make the project come to life in New Cross Gate, South London, an area that Connected Communities are already working in. If you are an RSA Fellow and you want to come along to this, or to any of the other seminars, it's not to late to register. We need bright heads to brainstorm along the the following lines:
How can we persuade landowners to let us use small parcels of land for one, two or more years, and leave them confident that there's not going to be local resentment when they need them back?
How can we persuade gardeners to pour their work into a piece of land they might only have for a single growing season?
How can we help the users design gardens in a practical way on land that may only be available for 18 months?
Research shows that successful garden projects are often run by a small group of people. How can we make a successful garden project that engages a wide slice of the local population?
Thanks to Harmen de Hoop for the use of Grow Your Own Vegetables - again.