Social Innovation

The mini-gardens cheering up London's commuters 

People wait for their train at a tube station in London, Britain, June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs - RTX39BTT

A UK company aims to brighten up London Overground platforms by planting gardens in 50 stations over the next two years Image: REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

Charlotte Edmond
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For most London commuters, train stations are a means to an end: soulless, a bit grimy, and inevitably home to a clutch of mangey pigeons.

But in an attempt to bring a sense of community to local areas, as well as lift the spirits of people doing the daily grind, a start-up is transforming platforms into thriving gardens.

Image: Twitter

Energy Garden, a partnership between community energy scheme Repowering London, charity Groundwork and local government body Transport for London, is aiming to plant gardens in 50 London Overground platforms over the next two years. Each garden is planted and maintained by local residents.

Image: Twitter

Alongside food growing plots, the gardens will also generate solar energy to provide a renewable power source for on-site lighting, water pumps and other small-scale station amenities.

And the scheme is already well under way. Over 20 stations so far have greener platforms thanks to local communities, from a living wall of plants and bug houses at Penge West, to a fruit orchard at Willesden Junction. One team has even managed to brew beer from hops grown in a station garden.

Image: Twitter

The Energy Garden team hopes that boosting local greenery will serve to clean the local air, as well as promote food and energy security.

Wider plans for the scheme include introducing solar arrays on rooftops and brownfield sites in order to generate income to support maintenance of the gardens.

The pigeons probably approve too.

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