By turning unused land into community gardens, London has found it is possible to grow local, low-carbon food, and to engage thousands of citizens in the process.

In response to a growing population and a wish to lower its CO2 emissions, London developed Capital Growth, a project enabling local food production and consumption. Initially aiming to create 2,012 community food growing spaces by 2012, the English capital already boasts 2,432 community gardens covering 991,000 square meters across the city. With more than two-thirds of the gardens built on previously unused, derelict, or inaccessible land, the city has proven that scarce land is not an obstacle to growing local food.

Capital Growth doesn’t just help to expand London’s community food production network, it also provides support enabling the city’s gardens flourish. More than 80 training sessions have educated growers, and, according to estimates, the Capital Growth network could grow at least 357 tonnes of its 10 most popular crops per year. With edible gardens found all over the city, supported by more than 150,000 volunteers, London is demonstrating the positive social, economic, and environmental returns that come with local food production.

2,616 tonnes of CO2 saved per year from 991,000 square meters of Capital Growth projects 

The challenge

London has more than eight million citizens and is growing steadily, which means more food consumption and more carbon emissions associated with food production and distribution. London officials launched Capital Growth so that local food production could help the city make good on its ambition to achieve substantial emissions reductions.


Economic The financial value of produce grown at just 160 growing spaces was $233,179 between March 2013 and February 2014.

Environmental Capital Growth projects have incorporated rainwater harvesting, where rainfall run-off that would have drained into London’s sewer system is instead utilized for garden watering, easing the burden on the drainage system and reducing water consumption.

Health Hands-on involvement in horticulture and its accompanying sense of achievement supports mental health and well-being for food growers.

Social Capital Growth enables often-marginalized people to engage with their communities, leading to increased feelings of community cohesion.

About London

London is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south east of the island of Great Britain, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. London is a leading global city and is crowned as the world’s largest financial centre and has the fifth- or sixth-largest metropolitan area GDP in the world. London is a world cultural capital and is the world’s most-visited city as measured by international arrivals. London has a diverse range of people and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken in the region. London contains four World Heritage Sites and The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world.

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