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Energy Garden

Who benefits

Energy Garden delivers benefits to London citizens through improved air quality, enhanced biodiversity, better public health, and opportunities for personal development, especially for those who participate in the Energy Garden Internship programme and the Energy Garden School programme. 

Energy Garden Internship Programme

“It was amazing to see London in a different way with great people and enriching exchanges. Visiting a building with solar panels on top and the vision of the solar energy working for the community marked me.” Paola Petry

 

In July 2016, Energy Garden launched its first paid internship programme, offering young people an overview and insight into sustainability. The first programme for 14 young people was delivered by Repowering London - specialists in community energy projects that deliver social, environmental and financial returns to the communities in which they are based. Repowering London has incubated Energy Garden since its inception and has been responsible for its development.

Interns on the Energy Garden Intern Programme were paid for their participation and gained AQA Certification on specific course modules. The course content included the following topics:

  • Community renewables
  • Solar system design
  • Home energy efficiency
  • Community gardening, food growing and composting
  • Community engagement
  • Marketing and social media

Addressing health issues

“Being involved in this project will enable us to transform our trackside spaces and stations, which will have a positive effect on the community and help to improve the health of passengers.”
Meliha Duymaz, Route Managing Director, Network Rail

 

Green spaces are crucial to urban living.  A 2016 study on the health and well-being benefits of allotment gardening found that people in urban areas with green spaces had “improved mental well-being, a reduction in stress, lower morbidity rates and cardiovascular disease risk, greater longevity, improved cognitive function and healthier cortisol profiles.”

Energy gardens contribute to London's health and sustainability. They achieve this by tackling air pollution through the introduction of plants on the London Overground. Native hedgerows and leafy ferns absorb floating particles, improving the quality of the air. Hedgerows like the ones planted at Bush Hill Park and Willesden act as a screen to filter air pollution as well as reduce noise pollution

According to the 2016 King’s Fund study Gardens and health, gardening for senior citizens has been shown to lead to increased self-rated health, mobility and independence, with indications of savings to the NHS, and dementia studies also report that gardens can reduce agitation and aggression, among other symptoms. A study by Barton and Pretty in Environmental Science & Technology shows that gardening leads to significant reductions in depression and anxiety, increased self-esteem and mood, even after only five minutes.

 

Energy Garden School Programme

"I would say all of my class learnt something new and increased their knowledge.”
Teacher from Highfield Primary School

 

Energy Garden's schools programme was delivered by Groundwork London and provided 69 plant-based and solar electricity workshops across 37 primary schools to 2,188 pupils.

Groundwork London is a social and environmental regeneration charity. For 30 years, Groundwork has been at the forefront of environmental and social regeneration in London and across the UK, changing places and lives for the better, in some of the capital’s most disadvantaged neigh-bourhoods.

Teacher’s noted that the strengths of the Energy Garden workshops were:

  • Engaging and interactive with practical activities
  • Excellent subject knowledge of the team
  • Fun and enthusiastic delivery
  • Introducing schools to projects taking place in the local area
  • Drawing on the children’s prior subject knowledge
  • Well-resourced learning materials

Commuter Safety

“We have people stopping the volunteers and thanking them for their garden because it makes them more cheerful. They’re always very positive about the garden.”
Sam Lear, Environment Manager, Southern Rail

Energy gardens may also increase safety and general welfare at stations. A study in Environment and Crime in the Inner City (2016) found that people living in greener surroundings reported “lower levels of fear, fewer incivilities, and less aggressive and violent behaviour.”

People involved with energy gardens have commented over the last year that there is a sense of community and that passengers are less likely to litter. Another study by Kuo and Sullivan, Aggression and Violence in the Inner City (2001), showed that buildings with more green spaces reported less aggression and violence than barren buildings.

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