Octopus is an Islington network of Community Hubs. Octopus runs many projects and programmes to help improve the wellbeing of local residents. One of their recent projects is "We Can Grow" which targets Islington residents of any age and any background, to become more environmentally aware and connect with nature. This projects also tackles issues such as food poverty, human relationships with nature and wellbeing: since 20 minutes walking outside can improve your mood and health 

The importance of projects such as the We Can Grow has become more significant due to the growing knowledge of our effects on the planet and climate change highlighted through the extinction rebellion protests.

An example of the We Can Grow project is the Community Plant Nursery (CPN) situated at Tufnell Park Estate. This project is in partnership with Islington Council where they have leased an unused area to convert into a Plant Nursery. I visited the CPN on December the 7th and through the cold, normally barren winter month the Nursery was still full of life. I attended their 1st-year anniversary party. There was piquant pumpkin soup that had been made from a pumpkin grown there; an opportunity to make fragrant lavender bags which have infused my home with a sweet smell; herb bouquets made mostly with parsley which you can use in many dishes. 

There are often events happening at the CPN ranging from learning workshops to parties and even a harvest festival on (end of Sep 2019) in which food grown was shared. This is advertised in local Islington by electronic notice boards like Yammer, on leaflets, door to door and on the Octopus Communities website. Their previous events have been quite popular. Their Grand Opening on the 8th of December 2018 which was a cold wet winter day was attended by 75 local residents including the Mayor of Islington. 

Fran Smith a co-ordinator of the grand opening stated that “There was an open fire where we roasted chestnuts, you could even be taught how to make a natural Christmas wreath. There were fairy lights and natural decor surrounding the Plant Nursery.” What a sight that must have been? Between the opening of the plant Nursery and now in 2019 there have been many successful projects and additions to the plant nursery which I was able to see for myself. 

The plant nursery uses a wormery to decompose their waste. The wormery is filled with Tiger worms which produce a natural juice that can be used as an organic fertilizer. There is also a bed of leeks which can be harvested soon, winter garlics and onions. There is a thriving bed of broccoli, due to it being a member of the cabbage family it has to be constantly protected from the nesting parakeets by netting. The Plant Nursery shows local people how to grow through practical demonstrations and growing seedling which are given out to the community, for example, an aloe vera plant which I have taken from the Plant Nursery and is prospering. 

This plant nursery is a learning hub to help local people learn how to grow their own food and increase environmental literacy. I enjoyed my time there and hope to visit in the spring - primetime for blossoming.