A disused platform at Olympia Station which has been turned into a thriving community garden with 89 vegetable plots has won a Big Challenge award as an example of work that goes beyond normal practice in order to enhance biodiversity.
The 'plotform-garden' which is used by 200 residents to grow a wide range of fruit, vegetables and flowers, was developed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea working with Network Rail, and won the award for ‘Large Scale Temporary Structure’.
The brightly coloured raised beds, which provide residents with a manageable 1.5m x 1.5m plot, were specially made so they are movable should Network Rail needs to access the platform.
A weekly gardening workshop is held on the site to provide plot holders, many of whom have not grown anything before, with free advice and encouragement. In addition to the vegetable plots the garden features a small orchard with over 30 fruit trees including a variety of apple, pear, cherry and plum trees.
The garden was praised by the judges for being a sustainable project with long-term considerations. The judges said thought had been given into how it could be replicated or extended beyond initial life span.
Since 2009 the Council has created over 50 community garden sites which feature over 500 plots/allotments or “aplotments” as some residents refer to them. As a result there are now some 1,000 residents growing their own produce. To help community gardeners across the borough the Council employs two part-time gardeners who run workshops and offer advice to the new gardeners.
Community gardener Will Gould added: “Once people start seeing things appear they quickly get addicted to gardening. Plot holders like to grow all kinds of food plants from Moroccan mint to Malabar spinach, but stalwart crops like tomatoes and climbing beans proved very popular over the summer growing season.”