improving health and well being, valuing food and connecting communities through local food growing
As part of Merton's Food Poverty Action Plan, Sustainable Merton aims to increase the use of growing spaces to tackle food poverty by helping residents of all ages to:
Learn more about the food system and where food comes from.
Access, grow and cook fresh, healthy, nutritious food.
Develop new skills in an inclusive, friendly environment.
Get outdoors and feel more connected with their community.
Improve overall health and well-being.
Our flagship community garden
Established in 2008 by Sustainable Merton, in collaboration with the National Trust, Merton Abbey Horticultural Society, Merton Council and the local community, Phipps Bridge Community Garden is an example of community gardening at its best.
Our team rescued 4 allotments from disuse and helped bring the rest of the site into use as mini-plots for local residents and the site has flourished for over 10 years.
The local community has been involved throughout the project, contributing time and skills, as well as donations of recycled wood pallets, compost, tools, and much, much more.
Through regular commitment, our volunteers have transformed this space into a social and productive food growing hub, and the garden now produces an abundance of fruit and veg – up to 750kg per year!
Wednesday workdays run from 10am - 1pm
Acess via the alleyway beside 58 New Close (View on map)
Award-winning community orchard and gardens
The creation of Mitcham Community Orchard, led by Sustainable Merton in partnership with Merton Council as part of the Dig Merton initiative, inspired 200 residents and 12 local partners and businesses to help transform a derelict area of spare land into an award-winning community orchard with 30 different varieties of fruit trees, 7 raised beds, ponds, a soft fruit collection and a wildflower meadow.
The site’s development continues and it has been used for numerous barbecues and parties by local residents and groups. The orchard is a community and educational resource to be enjoyed by everyone and we need the help of local volunteers to keep it growing strong.
Weekday and weekend opportunities
Fieldgate Lane, Mitcham CR4 3AL
Volunteers are needed for our Community Action Days (see Events) and for ongoing maintenance (e.g. weeding and watering). Join our team of volunteers to learn from others and share your skills to help care for this wonderful local food growing hub.
As part of the habitat plan to develop the site to be more welcoming to wildlife the following projects have been started.
Three wildlife ponds are now installed in a complex in the corner near the currant bushes. They are optimised for wildlife, using banks with holes and crevices and planted with British native aquatic plants. We hope to attract toads, frogs and a host of colourful insects, such as damselflies.
We have now planted 120 metres of hedgerow around the site, which will grow into and around the current chestnut paling fence whilst it is establishing. As well as providing a valuable habitat for wildlife, the hedgerow is comprised of edible bushes - hazel, blackthorn, elder, dog rose and crab apples. This was achieved through a donation of 420 saplings from the Woodland Trust, planted with the help of over 40+ volunteers.
We have now seeded almost 100m2 of wildflower meadow as part of our habitat plan. This will provide a valuable habitat for wildlife such as butterflies, moths and bees. The wildlife ponds abut this area, bringing together our biodiversity habitat plan.
Sustainable Food Places
Sustainable Merton is proud to have joined Sustainable Food Places - a partnership programme led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain.
The Sustainable Food Places approach is to move to a healthy, sustainable, and more equitable food system, working across all aspects of the food system to solve some of today’s most pressing social, environmental and economic issues.
As the food partnership lead for Merton, we are:
Supporting existing food growing places by encouraging our diverse, talented, and caring community to get involved in learning how to grow.
Running workshops and activities for everyone to enjoy.
Working with local resident volunteers to create welcoming green spaces where people can go to relax, learn, and socialise.
Creating opportunities for friendships to form and our green spaces to flourish.
It is our hope that the food grown in these places can be shared between residents and any surplus donated to Merton's Community Fridge Network - a network of 4 community fridges spread throughout the borough which welcomes anyone who would like some fresh surplus food to come and take what they need and share any of their own surplus food with others.
Find your local community growing space
Gardening for health and well being
Food growing is becoming more widely recognised by health professionals and others working towards improving health.
Increasing people’s exposure to, and use of, green spaces has been linked to:
Long-term reductions in overall reported health problems.
Reduced levels of obesity and increased activity.
Higher self-rated mental health and improved self-esteem.
Reductions in depression and anxiety and improved social function.
Weakened effect of income inequalities on health.
Increased intake of fruit and vegetables by children.
"What joy to spend time out of doors and to actually make things grow- and then eat them!