Allotment in the Sky

The Bash Building near Old Street  is the site for the City’s hot new green gardening project.

The aptly named Harrison Leaf, an innovative graduate in Food Anthropology and a fan of Urban Agriculture, is building an organic roof top allotment using only re-cycled materials together with 8 tons of compost donated from the North London Waste Authority plus an old car roof as a cloche.


The GLA estimate that  there are 25,000 acres of flat roof space across the capital with potential for growing food. These could reduce London’s carbon foot-print and provide community projects promoting self sufficiency.

Roof top gardening is very advanced in many cities in America Australia but London is only just realising its potential.


Harrison began his pilot project in March 2009 by planting a range of seeds using one of the building’s over-heated offices as a green house. Runner beans, potatoes, herbs, beetroot and many more crops  – even melons as this type of crop seriously reduces carbon foot prints and the heatwave might deliver ripened fruit.

He built his vegetable beds using re-cycled wood from pallets into which he planted out the seedlings that turned into healthy plants.Advertisements for volunteers to help via Environment Job and Gum Tree produced over 50 responses from commited gardeners to individuals just wanting to learn more about growing their own food.

dsc01089 The latest addition to the roof space is a bee hive. Bees survive better in cities without being affected by chemical fertilisers that are used extensively in the country and can seriously threaten the health of any hive. A local London bee-keeper donated the bees – some came from the Royal Festival Hall hives and had to be slowly introduced to the existing hive . They took a few days to get used to each other but now all seem to be getting on well and a crop of roof top honey is expected over the summer.


Harrison’s  Allotment in the Sky arrives at a time when the City is seriously exploring how to become greener. Boris Johnson and Rosie Boycott’s Capital Growth initiative provides grants to communities who are growing their own produce and turning what was previously waste land into productive spaces where groups share a common interest and work towards a greener Capital city – there are plans to have 2012 gardens producing food in time for the Olympics

Harrison feels certain  that 2009 is the perfect economic and environmental climate to set up his sky allotment.

“At university I learnt about the amazing effects of urban agriculture all over the world and this is an idea that London really needs to embrace. We have to change the way we source our food – the energy costs of bringing supplies into the capital really don’t make sense if we are trying to reduce our carbon foot print. Growing more of our own local food in the City is the way forward and the many flat roof tops across the capital are an ideal location. My aim is to inspire companies to think about turning their unused roof space into allotments that could develop into profitable businesses – many London restaurants will pay a premium for organic food that is sourced on their door-step.”



Harrison is starting a diary blog on this site  to share his allotment gardening in the London sky – there will be a link to it from the Home Page in about 10 days time.

He is also building a Key Hole Garden – a unique system that  African farmers use to combine growing food with recycling food waste .I wrote a blog about these last year and it proved to be my most popular with thousands of hits. The idea seems to really appeal to people with a limited area of outside space. Harry will explain how to build one and give ideas on using this system to grow your own fresh produce on small roof terraces and balconies.

Find out how Cuba has embraced urban agriculture and reduced it dependence on oil production in this short film by Monty Don from Around the World in 80 Gardens

For  information about sourcing good quality food in London visit

Find out more about BASH visit:

BASH exists to green the cultural sectors: We call it Eco-entertainment

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- who has written 3 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Debbie Says:

    Hi Martin
    Sorry for delay in replying
    I am trying to contact Harrison but no luck so far
    Maybe try his facebook page?