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Growing Food & Growing Friends

The Growing Food, Growing Friends project has been so succesful that we are running it again this year. A small group of volunteers are doing it with their neighbours. So, if you live in Ilford and would like to grow your own food in your front garden and making friends along the way... get in touch via our email,

The aim of our project was to encourage neighbours in Ilford (IG1 Postcode) to start to grow food in containers in their front garden/ space and also to make friends with their neighbours through the connections they made.

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What we did
We recruited 15 volunteers who invited their 10 nearest neighbours to take part in our project. We grew seedlings, and bought and collected seeds of 10 different kinds of vegetable and fruit. As well as these, we offered window boxes, tubs and compost to 100 local families, many of whom don’t have growing space as they live in flats or their front garden has been concreted over. We also ran front garden workshops in making cuttings whilst lockdown was still going on, and later a chutney making workshop with apples one person had from her trees. Two participants made short videos on how to grow gourds. We also did a cuttings workshop in the Transition Ilford Forest garden once restrictions were lifted
Many people took an interest in growing for the first time. People were thrilled when crops actually grew!
In one street there was a noticeable “knock on” effect in that other people (who were not in the project) also started to grow in containers in their front garden.
Another benefit was that people got to know their neighbours better. We live in an ethnically very diverse neighbourhood, so it was great to see people of different backgrounds mixing.
We formed a planning group which enabled different people to offer skills they have. For example one person went round local hardware shops and got vouchers we could use for their products (like plant food).
We were keen to involve Bangladeshi women, some of whom were already excellent gardeners. We recruited two Bangladeshi volunteers who contacted other people in their community.  They grew excellent  Khodu (Gourd)  and tomatoes, which were in great demand!

We don’t have funding this year but we have decided to run a scaled down project. We will offer seeds and compost but not containers. Can you grow some seeds we can use later? We are currently looking for people to grow seeds indoors so that they will be ready to distribute when the growing season starts. We can give you packets of seeds (eg tomato and chilli) small containers  and some seed compost if you need it. Your job will be to look after the seeds until they are ready to be planted out or passed on to this year’s growers. Could you be a volunteer? The project gives you a great chance to get to know your neighbours better.  If you would like to volunteer we can give you all you need to enable your neighbours to get growing! If either of these opportunities interest you then get in touch with us by email at

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