As National Allotments Week approaches next week, the spotlight falls on Quintain Living’s Canada Gardens in Wembley Pak, where residents have discovered a unique solution to beat the years-long waiting lists for local allotments.
With a staggering 87% increase in demand for allotments across UK local authorities, the London Borough of Brent has not been exempt from the trend. In Brent, the wait for an allotment plot has stretched up to two years, and the waiting list is now closed for new applicants. However, the residents of Quintain Living’s Canada Gardens are reaping the benefits of an innovative and family-focused development that offers a delightful alternative.
Canada Gardens, a collection of 743 rental apartments ranging from studios to four-bedroom homes, has managed to create a green haven within the heart of Wembley. In addition to its array of amenities like BBQ areas, designer work-from-home sheds, a pirate ship play park, and a private clubhouse, the development boasts 18 hireable raised growing beds.
The idea for these growing beds was conceived during the site’s design phase back in 2016. Drawing inspiration from the London National Park City campaign, Quintain’s Head of Masterplanning & Design, Julian Tollast, championed the idea of providing resident amenities that included the raised beds and a greenhouse, all forming part of the overall podium garden design for Canada Gardens.
Since opening its doors in 2021, Canada Gardens has witnessed residents nurturing an array of fruits, vegetables, and herbs within the development’s premises. In addition to the raised beds, residents have access to a greenhouse and tool shed. The management company, Quintain Living, which oversees the rental of more than 3,650 apartments in Wembley Park, including Canada Gardens, provides valuable information on seasonal planting and growing tips.
In addition, a new composter has been added to convert green waste from the vast 85-acre Wembley Park estate into nutrient-rich compost and liquid fertiliser (leachate), promoting sustainability and eco-friendliness.
The demand for the raised growing beds at Canada Gardens remains high and steady, with all 18 beds currently in use. Residents have successfully cultivated various salad crops and vegetables, enjoying the fusion of intermittent sunbursts and rain showers that characterise this summer.
The younger residents have been competing in a race to grow sunflowers while delighting in munching on super-sweet strawberries. The air is filled with the scents of fragrant herbs, and cucumber vines elegantly climb their canes. As the first tomatoes ripen inside the greenhouse, the residents are looking forward to sharing the bountiful harvest with each other, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.
Apart from the convenience of growing their own fresh produce and reducing food-to-table miles and packaging, residents also cherish the social connections that gardening together brings. The Quintain Living Resident App and resident events, such as gardening workshops, have become platforms for neighbours to bond and collaborate.
Residents Shamir and Reschma Jetha shared their positive experiences, mentioning how a local community garden manager, fondly known as ‘Jim the Farmer,’ taught them the art of planting and caring for their crops.
What started as a nervous attempt at gardening turned into a peaceful and rewarding hobby that deepened their connection with nature and their fellow gardeners.
National Allotments Week 2023 underscores the significance of not only growing produce but also understanding the role of soil health in increasing yields and supporting biodiversity. Tending to raised growing beds like those at Canada Gardens provides families with a valuable opportunity to pass down this crucial knowledge to the next generation.
In a place where allotments are scarce, Canada Gardens’ innovative approach has proved to be a resounding success, offering residents an enriching experience of nurturing their own green space while fostering a sense of community and environmental consciousness.
Danielle Bayless, Chief Operating Officer for Quintain Living, said, “Growing your own food is a fantastic way to enjoy fresh produce at its best while reducing your carbon footprint. Little tastes better than food you’ve grown yourself and picked just minutes before eating.
“There’s also plenty of fun to be had pickling and preserving the fruits of your own labour as well as getting to know your neighbours better by gifting them some of your homegrown produce.”