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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.

Barking Reach Residents Association Awarded £10K for New Barking Food Forest

TWCP Steering group member and resident Nikhil Rathore (on behalf of the Barking Reach Residents Association) with support from TWCP successfully bid for £10,000 Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) funding in front of a panel of LBBD residents to create “Barking Food Forest” (BFF) a community designed, food producing, garden for all to enjoy!

The Vision

After a successful campaign by the YCAG (Young Citizen Action Group), the barren post-industrial site located on a strip of land in front of Riverside Campus, in Barking Riverside, was secured for the creation of a community garden. Students at Riverside School had already put forward many creative and inspiring design ideas for the project. The vision for the Barking Food Forest is for the community to design, create and enjoy a Food Forest; a multi layered, food producing garden that supports both humans and wildlife. Students as well as local residents will be able to co-create a garden of beauty, tranquility and abundance. 

The project aims to create a space for learning, growing food, understanding the relationship between food and health, and to provide a venue for community events in a natural and safe space.

The Food Forest project is a really exciting opportunity for the whole area. It's a chance to connect with nature and the community in a safe way. We can be co-creators of a local gem: an urban garden that will provide enjoyment for decades to come. The fact that we can help support the local wildlife as well makes it even more rewarding.

What's planned for BFF?

It is planned to host a variety of weekly and monthly sessions. These will include learning to design regenerative garden systems with locals and exciting sessions hosted by gardening experts. There will be fun and safe activities for all ages and abilities, such as tree planting, creating veggie beds and much more! 

Due to the current lockdown, activities will have to remain online for the time-being but we are hoping for support from local partners to get some of the more challenging infrastructure steps underway while we are awaiting clearance for residents to be able to get involved.

How to get involved?

Complete the form below to register your interest in the BFF!

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