Regular followers of this blog will be aware that two of us who were involved with Alternative Estuary back in Essex have relocated down to Keynsham in Somerset. We’ve downsized and that means we’re now living in a ground floor flat. That was one of the trade offs for being within walking distance of the town centre, the railway station and also, the local park and the surrounding countryside.

We’ve gone from having a back garden where we were able, in a good year, to be self sufficient in vegetables for almost three months in a year, to a small covered patio outside our flat. Obviously, we’re doing what we can to grow as much as we can but realise that probably won’t be able to achieve three months self sufficiency from what we have. However, the extract below will inspire us to do what we can:

Growing back to our roots | Shahnaz Ahsan | October 19, 2022

When I moved to London after graduating, my mum came to visit — or, more accurately, to inspect the flat I was sharing with my best friend. It was on the top floor of a small block of flats in Mile End, east London, where Bangladeshis make up around 35% of the population. After deeming the kitchen satisfactory and the living room neat and clean, even though I had apparently neglected to dust the skirting boards, she went over to the window and looked out at the high-rise blocks opposite.

“You can tell which flats are occupied by amrar manush,” she said, using the Bangla for “our people”. To prove her point, she pointed at the balconies where neat arrangements of pots and grow bags stood, beans climbed up bamboo poles and trellises were covered in clinging vines that would soon bear gourds.

“It doesn’t matter how little land we have,” she added proudly. ‘You’ll always see that we’ve grown something on it.”

You can read the rest of this piece here.

There’s this as well:

The Balcony of Bangladesh – in London! | Vertical Veg

Imagine growing up in a tropical climate like that of Bangladesh. Your family has a strong history of food growing and you have enough land to supply all your fruit and vegetables. Seeds are bursting to sprout and grow at almost anytime of year.

Then imagine moving to a small flat in London with no outdoor space except a small concrete balcony. What’s more this space is exposed to the cold and all the elements of our fine British weather. Seeds need to be coaxed and nurtured into life.

You can read the rest of this piece here.

The point we’re making is that even if you’re in a flat, providing you have a balcony, you can grow some of the food you want. It’s a learning curve but one that will be rewarded. In these troubled times, anything that can be done to boost food security is worth doing. One resident growing food on a balcony may well seem to be an individualistic solution. When many residents in a block are growing their own food it starts to become a communal effort. When that’s combined with guerilla gardening odd plots around the estate, it becomes something bigger – namely starting to collectively take back control of the food supply.