Royal Parks: Creating Allotments in London’s Parks

Children working on the St James' Park allotment © Royal Parks / Anne-Marie BriscombeThe St James’ Park allotment project set out to inspire as many people as possible to have a go at growing 

The St James’ allotment was originally set up in 2007 in partnership with the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, as part of a campaign to celebrate the ‘Dig for Victory’ allotments that were an essential part of life during the Second World War.

The allotment was only meant to run for a year, but it proved so successful at engaging people in organic vegetable gardening that it was kept open for a further two years.

“Having an allotment in the centre of a busy London park was a unique opportunity to engage huge numbers of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, in organic gardening and growing vegetables,” explains Toni Assirati, Head of Education and Community Engagement at the Royal Parks.

“We organised a wide range of activities for schools, families, community groups and corporate volunteers. Over the three years we had more than 200,000 visitors and held more than 1,000 sessions for schools.”

A woman holding a runner bean at the St James' Park allotment © Royal Parks / Anne-Marie BriscombeAn allotment for every park

The St James’ allotment closed in 2010 but its legacy lives on in parks across London. “Trying out so many ideas and engaging so many different audiences with the St James’ project put us in a really strong position when it came to creating allotments in our other parks,” says Toni.

“Every Royal Park now has an allotment, with each one tailored to the needs of a particular audience group. The Kensington Gardens allotment, for example, supports adults with special educational needs, while at Regents Park we’ve teamed up with Sustain to offer practical help people start growing their own food.”

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