Back in March of this year, I wrote a blog about the Barking Food Forest (BFF) in which I looked back on my time spent on the project since its inception at the end of 2019 and forward to the plans for the development and activation of the space. Since that time significant progress has been made, which I’m excited to share.
Firstly, in July our friends at Wander Wild Forest School were successful in a bid to the LBBD NCIL fund for £10,000. This funding has enabled them to help further activate Barking Food Forest by engaging local children aged 5 and under and their families in a year of Saturday morning sessions learning about the different seasons, local animals and plants. As part of these sessions they participate in a range of activities including whittling, outdoor cooking, tent building, bug hunting, mud kitchen, wild play, nature art and circle time theatre and songs! We’re so pleased for them and have already seen the incredible benefit to local children and families of the work they are doing each week.
Secondly, in August the Green Team from Groundwork London returned (following their earlier work building planters and tree boxes) to help residents install a central pathway through the site, making it more accessible for all and setting the stage for further development plans to be enacted. It was great to have members of the community come along and join the team in digging, laying gravel and topping it off with wood chip donated by local tree surgeon, Kings Cuts Tree Services.
Thirdly, following the unfortunate closure of the Every One Every Day Warehouse on Thames Road, Thames Life were extremely fortunate to receive a significant number of trees and other gardening equipment on behalf of Barking Food Forest and the local community. In total we received 22 trees and 13 shrubs along with a water tank and irrigation system to keep them going in the dryer months. We also received picnic tables, scaffolding tables and even an outdoor table tennis table to make the space more welcoming and practical for workshops and events as well as a 10-bike cycle rack to make it easier for residents to travel actively to the site. Finally, we received a significant number of tools and equipment to assist in the maintenance of the space including a hedge trimmer, manual lawnmower, petrol strimmer, wheelbarrows, a shed, bins for compost and waste and a significant number of trowels, shovels and gloves. Our heartfelt thanks go to Every One Every Day and the panel who approved our bid and to Barking Riverside Ltd and their contractor JCS Poster Site Construction for helping us transport all the donated items to their new home. With all the trees now in place the plans for an urban food forest in the heart of Barking Riverside are really starting to take shape!
We are currently finalising our planning application for the site which we hope to submit before Christmas. This will include a proposal for a facilities structure capable of harvesting rainwater and solar energy and including secure tool storage, accessible toilet and baby change facilities, workshop spaces, a polytunnel for year-round growing and a pavilion for socialising and performances.
By Jamie Kesten