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One of the most exciting parts of 2015 was contributing to and competing in Royal Horticultural Society shows. We brought our students to the Chelsea Flower Show and the Spring Plants Show at the Lindley Hall, to show them the vast range and incredible skill of Britain’s gardeners. And we were able to participate in three other shows: the world’s largest flower show, at Hampton Court, and the Harvest Festival and Shades of Autumn at the Lindley Hall in Vincent Square. At Hampton Court we were invited to grow plants from seed to contribute to one of the conceptual gardens, for Africa Vision: Malawi.

We brought a trolley of edibles including squash, amaranth, cauliflower and marigold on the train from Rotherhithe, and helped to plant a selection of these with grasses and other plants as part of a beautiful permaculture design illustrating innovative, sustainable practices suitable for dry climates and gardens coping with weather extremes at home or abroad. Later in the year, we selected some of the best edible and ornamental plants to compete on the show benches in the categories of ‘2 Heads of Lettuce’, ‘Autumnal Foliage’ and ‘Autumnal Seed Heads or Flowers’. From our entries we got two Third Places and One Commended which, for a first showing on a national stage, felt like a huge achievement – and the honour goes to the community growers at the Lambeth GP Food Co-op, and our staff at our Southwark Charities sites, whose hard work made these achievements possible. We were also given the honour of displaying a stall of our work more broadly at the Autumn Harvest Show, where we were interviewed by the Gardeners World podcast and were able to talk to hundreds of people about our work.

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