Urban Growth Learning Gardens is a social enterprise that improves the well-being of Londoners by creating and maintaining communal gardens. We support vulnerable groups into sustainable, rewarding employment by transforming neglected urban spaces into thriving community oases. We are a Community Interest Company (CIC) with a diverse and experienced Members Board, and a growing team of professional gardeners and instructors.

We collaborate with businesses, individuals and community organisations to enrich London’s outdoor spaces with the people who live and work around them. We design, build and maintain gardens across London, enabling people to grow food and engage with nature on their doorstep. All our work is guided by the principles of permaculture, to enrich the health of people and the planet together, even in the heart of London.

We run workshops and training programs which educate and inspire people, supporting them into rewarding and socially-responsible employment. Our services are open-access, but we specialise in supporting people with a diverse range of needs, who may be socially isolated or face barriers to education and employment. We pay all our employees above the London Living Wage and offer a range of volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups.

Meet the Team

Bruno Lacey

Managing Director

Bruno founded Urban Growth to demonstrate innovative models of education which support people into rewarding, ethical work that is accessible to all.

Flora Gordon

Operations Manager

Flora completed the Urban Growth training program in 2015, and now helps to manage the portfolio and engage with community organisations in south London.

Kevin Sewell

Sites Manager

Kevin graduated from the Urban Growth training program in 2015, and now helps to manage the Urban Growth portfolio of sites, as well as being a freelance gardener.

Taye Tsega

Head of Food Growing

Taye has been with Urban Growth since early 2016 and plays a key role in the technical aspects of horticulture on our different sites as well as running workshops at Pop Farm.

Sebastian Wood

Volunteers, Digital & Orchard Manager

Seb has been with Urban Growth since April 2016 and plays a key role in running workshops, managing the Brixton Orchard, digital material as well as development of new urban gardens.

JJ Akinlade

Jetty Manager and Carpenter

JJ joined Urban Growth this year and shares his talent in carpentry, problem solving skills and gardening knowledge.  His main site is the Jetty@Greenwich where you can see his quality work

Our Board of Members

Mariana Meirelles - Chair - Monitoring & Evaluation Officer at Community Southwark

Mariana Meirelles is a dynamic, results-driven professional with over eight years of experience in international development, managing grants and projects, leading and mentoring teams, and developing and implementing strategies. Mariana’s expertise consists of supporting grassroots organisations to improve capacities, strengthen governance and increase participation in order to achieve social change.

Jens Umehag - Treasurer - Head of Finance for Group Technology & CFO at BPVentures

Jens Umehag is an energy professional with more than 15 years of international experience and an in-depth understanding of the industry – from supply and trading to sales and marketing. Most recently he was the Finance director for BP Lubricants in Germany before taking up his current role as the Head of Finance for Group Technology & CFO Ventures in 2015.

Maurizio Gioli - Board Member - Head of Enterprise & Innovation at Ravensbourne University

Maurizio has a background in Engineering and Graphic Arts and 20+ years experience working and consulting in B2B technology/research industries internationally. He is a trustee, philanthropist and social entrepreneur in London, supporting small charities and social enterprises through innovative services and ethical communication.

Chelsea Renhoff - Board Member - People and Development Manager for Europe, Soho House

Chelsea Rennhoff is a manager in People and Development at Soho House & Co, a luxury hospitality business with a global network of private members’ clubs, hotels, and restaurants. Chelsea oversees the UK people function and directs programs that create best-in-class people metrics that drive operational and business success. She is passionate about instituting leadership change and coaching that connects to a company’s core vision and values.

Prior to Soho House, Chelsea was a manager of People and Culture initiatives at Chipotle Mexican Grill, a publicly traded, 40000+ employee restaurant company. Chelsea was the youngest People and Culture manager in the team’s history and successfully partnered with Operations executives on people strategy in two of the most competitive restaurant markets, NYC and San Francisco. Prior to this role, Chelsea led employee relations for the US East Coast covering 500+ Chipotle restaurants. Chelsea also has extensive project management experience having created a first of its kind Chipotle eCurrency system to inexpensively and quickly resolve customer incidents.

Our Partners