Pop Brixton opens with crowds of happy visitors exploring the horticultural projects of Pop Farm created by (uncommon) landscape consultants.
The container city that has been rising on the site of the former multi-storey carpark in Brixton is now open. This pioneering place is a joint project between Lambeth Council, Carl Turner Architects, The Collective and (uncommon). Alongside the largely local shops and business units, (uncommon) have responsibility for creating a vibrant home for edible plants, and also providing education and outreach. From the outset, (uncommon) saw the project as an urban farm and challenged by the inhospitable conditions for planting, they are creating a series of projects which showcase the variety of food species that can thrive in the city.
The first project was THE STRIPE GARDEN. This is the scheme for perimeter planting and is a vegetable & fruit garden with big flowering climbers – ready to scramble up shipping-rope fans and make use of the hot sunny wall of the containers to attract insects that provide pollination. Edible species include grapes, french climbing beans, fig trees, rhubarb, blackberries, tomatoes – and lots more. Stripes are provided by a vibrant wallpapering scheme from Eley Kishimoto.
Inside, the main open space will remain as a multi-use plaza and we chose to make the planting moveable. Using re-cycled barrels, we are soon completing the PORTABLE ORCHARD, with seventeen species of apples, pears and cherries as well as plums, with herbs and soft fruit like gooseberry and red currant around them. Each pair of trees is on a wheeled trolley – and they are also used a space dividers, seats, avenues and screens for the events that take place at Pop Brixton.
No farm would be complete without a Greenhouse – we have a magnificent Keder bubblewrap greenhouse sitting above the containers in the centre of the space. This is a new communal space for Lambeth – and there is plenty seating so take your food and have a relaxed meal. The planting for the greenhouse has started with our installation for the Chelsea Fringe Festival, GARDEN OF DISORIENTATION, a reprise of the 2012 garden we made in Clerkenwell which takes a single plant species (this time Amaryllis) and uses hundreds of plants for a hyper-real horticultural affect. There are about 250 amaryllis bulbs whose exotic blooms are a perfect opening surprise for Pop Brixton. The flowers will be blooming for about six weeks – getting better & better, but will then be replaced by edibles – we already have tomatoes, aubergines, chillies, kiwis and passion fruit – and more planned by the Pop Farmers, our volunteers.
Finally we have created a TEA GARDEN around the entrance to the exhibition container – and it will be ready for the RIBA London Summer Showcase opening on 5th June. This small space will contain plants used in herbal and medicinal teas and has a strong colour palette chosen to compliment the faded metallic shades of the containers, rather than hide them.
The maintenance of the gardens is part of the remit of POP FARM: we are creating a community urban farm. Over the summer our volunteers will start to plan the planting for next year, more exciting projects, and a series of talks, workshops and training sessions to explain what we are up to and promote some knowledge of where of food comes from. We have been hugely aided by a group of dedicated volunteers in the setting up of all the planting on site and (uncommon) are excited about the possibilities of developing Pop Farm as a robust, Brixton-based urban farm for the future.