The ‘Edible Bus Stop’, a project created by a group of neighbours with the aim to beautify a small patch of public garden on a busy and overlooked road of London, has deservedly caught the attention of national and international press. Although grassroots movements have been taking place across the world for a few years, usually most initiatives stem from political or economic reasons intended to empower local communities. In this case, what makes the ‘Edible Bus Stop’ a case to praise is the fact that it has not only been renovating a derelict tiny plot but it has brought an entire local community together in the most organic way possible.
Situated on Landor Road, in South-West London (an area that is not entirely a stranger to small and medium scale renovation projects), and facing a psychiatric hospital, the small public garden was ignored by people who drove or walked past with no reason to stop and usually only noticed by people who used the bus stop. Originating as a community garden project, this once forgotten space has been transformed into a blossoming garden and has been described as a 21st century urban village green. The project started in March 2011 when a couple of neighbours got together and posted 400 leaflets through doors asking if anyone would like to join them in tending a neglected piece of local land. The response saw over 40 enthusiastic people turning up on the first digging day and the transformation began to create a lush organic space for growing edible and non-edible plants.
The next step in the development of this initiative is to create London’s first Green Bus Route, transforming neglected and disused garden spaces along the route of the 322 bus line in order to provide interactive spaces for the local communities and create sources of local pride. And the success couldn’t be more visible: residents of streets who had never spoken to each other now get together regularly to tend to the garden and have started socialising over food, drink and music in street parties that bring the community together.