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Young People Meet with Cllr Achilleos to Campaign for Food Waste Collection

Young people have an excellent way of speaking the truth, even the uncomfortable ones. This is never truer than when it comes to issues of looking after our planet and taking seriously the damage our current lifestyles are having. The local newspaper, the RiverView, featured an interview with Leo about food waste and the lack of it in Barking & Dagenham. Leo wanted to do something about it.  

Since then, it has been exciting to link up with the Young Citizen Action Group at Riverside School and with others at Leo’s own school, George Carey Primary School to turn words into action. The young people met Councillor Achilleos, who is the Green Champion in the Borough to take this further.

Erik was one of the young people leading the discussion. He shared:

“After hearing about Leo’s food waste campaign, I felt inspired and encouraged to join his project in order to make a change. During the meeting with Cllr Achilleos we asked him if we could have a food waste collection system across the entire borough and have food waste bins and biodegradable bags provided for free.”

Everyone was pleased to hear that food waste is already high on the council agenda, and they are exploring how to implement this for residents next year. Leo reflected after the meeting, “I felt nervous in the beginning, but the Councillor was kind and very polite, when he said they would do it in 2023 it felt really good and I was excited!”

Councillor Achilleos shared: “It was great to meet with young people from Riverside and George Carey Schools to discuss food waste recently. Their initiative, enthusiasm, and engagement with the issue filled me with hope that we can overcome the challenges, to deliver a food waste service and a carbon neutral future for Barking and Dagenham. Young voices have proved particularly powerful in the climate debate, and I will be working hard to ensure those voices are heard as we work towards our goal of net-zero by 2030.”

So, progress is being made, and that leaves the question of what next? It is great that the council is hoping to bring food recycling to every home next year, for free. The young people continue to watch this to make sure it happens. There is a role each of us can play too, not only to recycle our food waste when the bins arrive, but we can reduce our own food waste today. These young people are committed to keep working for a greener future and working with our schools to do that. Did you know, 30% of the food we buy goes in the bin? We can change that by only buying what we need, saving not only waste but money too – what’s not to love!

Residents join forces to bring back Ripple Nature Reserve

A resident-led group has formed to help the council bring the Ripple Nature Reserve back into use after many years of the site being inaccessible to the public. The precise details and dates are being worked out but already residents have done a successful litter pick drawing on the energy and expertise of the Roding Rubbish Group and a steering group is in place to plan, fundraise and support the return of a well-managed and much needed environmental and community resource returning to its former glory. 

During the pandemic, Londoners took to their parks and green spaces as never before. Assets that had always been there but perhaps not always fully accessed or appreciated helped us connect with one another, safeguarded our wellbeing, and put us in touch with our environment. The Ripple Nature Reserve covers over 10 hectares spanning from the warehouses and industry of Thames Road, the HGV thoroughfare that is River Road/Renwick Road and the edges of the earliest phases of Barking Riverside. Older residents recall taking their children to enjoy the birch trees, open glades, scrub and grassland, with some veterans of Thames Ward remembering a time when the London Wildlife Trust maintained the site. The thrill of encountering this magical space has been denied newer residents, as the entrances have been locked for years. When children at Riverside School’s Young Citizen Action Group did a session on protecting the environment, the site was visible from the school window but most didn’t know it even existed, and even now they can only view it from afar.

The site adapted to the industrial legacy of the area including the dumping of pulverised fuel ash from a nearby Power Station closed in the 1980s resulting in highly alkaline soil in contrast to more acidic soil found across much of London. This has given rise to a range of plant species that would not grow elsewhere including orchids, grey club rush and wild basil as well as a haven for goldfinch, rabbits and endangered species of invertebrates. 

Barking and Dagenham is blessed with many parks and open areas and yet with all the development afoot – just play spot the crane next time you are in Barking or on Riverside – green spaces and space in general is under increasing pressure. Over one hundred thousand people are set to be added to the population of the borough within the space of a few decades, many of whom will make their home south of the A13. For those living here and now and for those who will come in future years, as Riverside completes its 10,800 homes target in 2037, never was the solace of a Nature Reserve more needed.  

For more details and to get involved contact nia@twcp.org.uk


Barking Food Forest and Riverside Bridge School receive £10K from GLA Climate Kick-Start Fund!

Barking Food Forest and Riverside Bridge School, supported by Thames Ward Community Project, have been successful in a joint application to the London Schools’ Climate Kick-Start Green Schools Grant, and will receive £10K for the projects! Out of all the schools in London that applied, we were 1 of only 5 that were successful. 

The proposal was for funding to create solar-powered rain-fed watering and electricity systems for both sites that will be fully self-sustainable and renewable, supported by a qualified permaculture teacher and electrical system consultants. 

The funding will purchase:

  • A durable greenhouse for the Riverside Bridge School edible garden, to replace their previous one that had blown away.
  • A performance stage for BFF with an integrated rainwater harvesting roof , under-deck water storage and solar powered irrigation system.
  • Solar panels for both sites.
  • A portable solar electric system for BFF.
  • Specialist consultations.
  • Teaching hours from a permaculture specialist.

Student and wider community engagement

The project will hugely increase the students’ exposure to local wildlife, climate and pollution issues, engaging them in regular outdoor activities. Students will see, hear, smell and feel the natural world and their own roles as custodians and guardians.The irrigation and renewable energy systems will enable the projects to continue food growing activities through the seasons and be a working example of regenerative resource management, modelling how we can aim to not only be neutral in our environmental impact, but actually climate positive.BFF weekly sessions have already begun and students have been bringing siblings and parents along to participate. The central and highly visible location of the project aids in the project acting as a bridge between the student body and the wider local community.Students will gain exposure to local, organic fruit and vegetable production: renewable electrical energy and the shared experience of working together with others to create a long term asset for the local area. As a result it will improve students’ sense of agency and give them a skill set they can take forward in their lives as young adults of the future.

A Month of Barking Food Forest

Here at TWCP, we pride ourselves on being genuinely resident-led, and there’s nothing that expresses this in its truest form more than the Barking Food Forest. From the beginning, the site itself was secured through the hard campaigning work and drive of the Young Citizen Action Group at Riverside School, who after 2 years managed to take possession of the keys for the community garden site from BRL. Community effort continued with successful grant applications supported by TWCP. Fast forward to our co-design sessions, which were a hit with young people and residents, the long awaited GPR scan of the grounds, and we were finally ready to start in-person sessions at the end of August. 

Where are we now?

It’s been a journey filled with collaborating, learning, and of course hard work. We’ve been steadily building momentum through various meetings with key stakeholders, co-design sessions with local people, collaborating with local organisations, such as Every One Every Day and taking others on that journey with us through our online channels. To note some key moments:  

  • JM2 Group have supported in maintaining the site. 
  • Going Picking have provided much needed learning in terms developing this project through meetings and a tour of their own site. 
  • Make:Good architecture and design studio has been working with Riverside students and the BFF team to design a Pavilion that will be built on the site. 

We are all grateful for the support we’ve received but our greatest and most important connection has been with the residents. Over the month, we have been able to engage with residents of all ages, from all walks of life, seeking a space where they can learn and be free in. Over the past 5 weeks we have enjoyed sessions building planters, building the compost area, planting bulbs, watering, digging and socialising! 

It's been a real whirlwind start to Barking Food Forest. It's encouraging to see lots of enthusiasm & hard work from the community so early in the project. Organisations have given invaluable support which really helps at this challenging start up phase. We've had a lot of fun & got a lot done, I'm really looking forward to seeing where we will be this time next year!

Barking Food Forest Update: Vegetation Cut, and GPR Scan Complete!

Resident steering group member; Nikhil Rathore, was able to prepare the grounds for a ground penetrating radar scan to be completed, with support from TWCP, a local resident and Thames View Community Garden.

The vegetation was cut back by the team, and next steps will include building raised beds on the site. The team hopes for Barking Food Forest to be open to residents in due time.

Positive feedback from Barking Food Forest co-design sessions

Barking Food Forest is a new community gardening project in Barking Riverside that will benefit local children, young people, families and wider residents of all ages.

The Barking Food Forest will be next to the Riverside Campus. It is a great location that boasts part of the nearby Thames Estuary, in which Brackish water species live. It will also provide a much needed community green space, which is lacking in Thames Ward due to being cut off by the A13.

The Event

The Barking Food Forest co-design sessions were opportunities for TWCP staff, resident steering group member; Nikhil Rathore, and local residents to come together and hear the plans and vision for the forthcoming Barking Food Forest. Most importantly, local residents were also invited to share their views and suggestions on what they desired to be a part of the garden. Particularly, residents were able to give input on what plants they would like to grow, what features the shared garden space should include and what activities they would like to enjoy in the space.

Nikhil Rathore introduced the project as a “community effort” and explained the permaculture approach that would be adopted. He stated that the food forest would be a space that was permanent; sustaining itself and regenerating nature, and pointed out a few principles such as catching and storing energy. Local residents were then invited to introduce themselves and share what their favourite nature spot was.

The session continued with Nikhil providing more detail as to the structure of a food forest; a garden system design that has multiple layers. He named seven layers that would be incorporated into the garden (canopy, lower tree-level, shrub layer, herbaceous layer, soil surface, root layer, vertical layer), and their benefits, such as weed protection.

Local residents were then told of the progress of the project so far, which included:

– Campaigning: YCAG’s winning campaign for the site of the food forest.

– Co-designing: YCAG and other students from Riverside campus informed the initial food forest design. Sessions with local residents.

– Preparatory infrastructure works are currently taking place. 

The session ended with a collaborative Jamboard where everyone shared their ideas on the themes of a garden and forest, what plants and features they would like to see, and aspects of the project people were most passionate about.


The Impact

The sessions were well attended by local residents. Residents found it empowering to know that their ideas would be incorporated into the design of the garden site and the activities to be held there.

Loving it! Planting something, being surrounded by nature! I’ll be there!”

Really excited about the prospect of a community garden as I used to have an allotment. It'll be nice to have something were lots of people are involved!

The enthusiasm and honest opinions from the local residents were well received and would be vital to the continuing progress of the project.

We really need a communal space for the community to be able to engage with each other after lockdown.

Next Steps

The updated design will be shared with the community, reflecting the input from both the local residents and student co-design sessions. 

In person gardening sessions will be announced as soon as soon as national restrictions allow.

If you would like to join in gardening activities please complete the form below and/or follow TWCP social media channels.

– Weekly sessions (x2 hours): Midweek evenings, designing regenerative garden systems. 

– Monthly sessions (x3 hours): Weekend daytime sessions, guest expert visits, intergenerational sessions.

How To Get Involved

If you would like more information about the Barking Food Forest, please complete the form below.

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