Transition Primrose Hill

Local Food Growing

Our main Transition gardening project is at Cecil Sharp House.  Please go along at any time and see our home grown vegetables, wattle beds, medicinal garden and green roofs.  Please watch this video taken in the garden earlier this year.

What to grow this season?

So now its time to get rid of all the scraps of plant material left over from the summer.  Its a good idea to mulch around established evergreen plants to keep the soil warm and to prevent weeds growing in the spring.  Using hay as mulch is low cost and effective, simply move the hay over when it comes to spring planting.  Broad bean seeds can go in and its a really good time to do some hardwood cuttings of currants, raspberries and gooseberries.  Leaves, of course can be recycled- fill large garden sacks to break down during the next year to form leaf mould.   A nice thing to do right now is to dream of spring by planting lots of cheerful bulbs.


Want to grow food this year, but don’t know where to start?

We are currently running food growing courses at PHCA and community seed sowing sessions. Please see our events page and e-mail us to book on.

The Garden at Cecil Sharp – Home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society

Early 2010 in search of land, two of our transitioners approached the EFDSS about possibilities of growing food on some of their land in exchange for maintaining one of their beds. This has now developed into a lovely partnership project. Transition gardeners, headed up by Community Gardener, Anna Locke, are maintaining and developing a medicinal specimen bed along the lines of a Monk’s Physik Garden. We are also collaborating with local Herbalist Christopher Hedley, who has some medicinal plant additions associated with both healing and folk stories….and he will be delivering some popular herbal talks in the garden about the plants later in the season. The garden is also used from time to time by the Permaculture Association where students learn from and make things for the garden- and also is the site of the annual Permaculture Festival. (July) The Gardeners will also be growing some salad leaves and herbs for the Nice Green Cafe to use in its delicious organic food- (now open to the public) and also grow some showcase vegetables for people to see. We have already planted an apple tree- donated to the garden on Apple Day and hope that the rest of the garden will be surrounded by flowers that appear in songs, poems and stories.

If you would like to be part of this project then please join the transition PH gardening group (see events) and/or have a look at our wish list to see what you can donate from your own garden. OR if you know a plant that appears in a folk song- why not donate it to the EFDSS and the transition gardeners will plant it for you…….                                                                                 

Wish List of Plants or Seeds:


  • Angelica
  • Chamomile
  • Chicory
  • Wallflower
  • Columbine
  • Fennel
  • Heartsease
  • Hellebore
  • Pennyroyal
  • Valerian
  • Tansy
  • Wild Carrot
  • Sweet Violet
  • Madonna Lilly
  • Vervain
  • Chasteberry
  • Sage
  • Pink Yarrow
  • Nicotinia

What’s to be done?

London is one of the greenest cities in the world, rich in open spaces, parks, city squares, private gardens, city farms, nature reserves and allotments.  Now communal land in housing estates as well as temporary allotments on land waiting to be developed are being made available to urban growers.

Why wait for a crisis? Join your local Transition team of growers to help transform the garden at Cecil Sharp House and  to improve the biodiversity in other local green spaces. Help us put pressure on local authorities to allocate more space for growing food. Meantime try growing your own, even if it’s only a few saladstuffs in pots, or herbs on a windowsill.  Buy local food from local suppliers (see our Buying Locally page). Ask questions about your food. Where did it come from? What chemicals were used in its production and packaging? How was it transported to its point of sale? Cook recipes with local ingredients in their prime: see our Seasonal Recipes page written by local food writer Rosie Stark.

What is available locally?

Basic food-growing.  You can register your interest for a course  at Primrose Hill Community Centre: call Mick Hudspeth  on 0207 586 8327, or email us at .

Teaching children to grow food: Transition movements also focus on the importance of teaching children these important life-skills, and it has become a hot topic on the agenda of many of our local schools: Primrose Hill School, for instance, keeps chickens and grows fruit and vegetables which are sold at Melrose and Morgan in Gloucester Avenue, just over the road from the school. This is the kind of local food links that transition aspires to. It’s about organising food production at local level, getting to know one another and widening the spheres in which we can operate. It’s about thinking local and increasing our independence.

A mass of resources:

Watch ‘The Power of Community’ for some inspiration! It shows how a population in Havana, forced by political changes to rely heavily on imports has, in just twelve years, become 90% self-sufficient in locally grown fruit and vegetables – and all due to small-scale localised farming techniques.  Cuba is now being seen as a model for what looks almost certain to be a widely repeated experience

Get involved with an organisation: London has a head start over other cities.  We have community food-growing organisations like Capital Growth, City Leaf, Groundwork, BTCV, Federation of Community Gardens and City Farms, and many others not to mention individual home owners willing to share their gardens. This all makes Urban Agriculture an increasing reality

Get online or read some books: A few of our favourites are….
Allotment Month by Month by Alan Buckingham
Local Food: How to Make it Happen in Your Community: How to Unleash a Food Revolution Where You Live by Tamzin Pickerton & Rob Hopkins
The Green Home: Creating Your Own Garden Farm by Nicki Trench

If you would like to convert some of your garden to food growing or orchard, but don’t know where to start, transition and community gardener, Anna Locke (07946 228 110), offers garden coaching or advice tailored to your garden and what you would like.