The idea for a community-driven urban farm was born during the pandemic when Joe Gansevles recognized the need for accessible food in the London area. From bylaws, to being on a floodplain, to a lack of funding, challenges seemed to pop up at every corner. However, with the help of community members they were able to overcome these obstacles and form the PATCH!
The PATCH is an urban agricultural initiative that does more than just grow food at their three London locations; they also host events & workshops, provide employment training, and cultivate a safe space for volunteers and community members to garden and meet new people. Their stunning Cavendish Community Food Hub location is equipped with wheelchair-accessible gardens, follows eco-conscious practices, and has generated thousands of pounds of fresh produce this year!
The PATCH is committed to sustainability, inclusivity, and resourcefulness, with inclusivity being reflected in their garden layout that features wheelchair-accessible pots, raised garden beds, and roomy pathways to ensure participation from individuals of all abilities. Their Cavendish location exemplifies resourceful practices by repurposing donated wooden pallets as materials for garden beds, and redirecting waste as soil-enriching compost that is donated by The Wormery at the Western Fair District (thanks, Dan!). Committed to sustainability, they primarily deliver their produce to organizations by bicycle, clocking over 750k miles. Among their partnerships, they generously contribute their harvest to organizations such as the London Food Bank, Ark Aid Mission, and Indwell . It is truly a community effort!
The PATCH’s dedication is evident: they’ve generously donated 3,000 lbs of food this year, and are aiming for 5,000 lbs this year. Their vision includes expanding their planters and introducing an inclusive tactile garden designed for all to enjoy, regardless of sensory limitations. Additionally, they have plans for a streamlined irrigation system.
As for the future, they envision a city where the overlooked corners and plots can become repurposed as food hubs. They encourage communities, universities, and employers to replicate this model, ensuring economical access to healthy food for all communities. When talking about the PATCH’s long term plams Joe Gansevles says,
“I would think that if we had a long-term plan for this space is that it could be a template for urban agriculture in the city. To look at spaces that you maybe you wouldn’t look at it with first glance and think, “Oh, you could grow a significant amount of food there” So, I would hope that this is something that co-operative housing complexes could have, that a university could have, that large-scale employers that have land that they could re-purpose and utilise for their workforce. Our long term plan would be that we can live in a city where there’s easy economical access to food for people, and this is an open-patent design. People can come and they can liberate what we’ve done and they can do it in their neighbourhoods, schools, and workforce.
So, I think our long term plan is there’s a whole bunch of these, and people having access to healthy foods. They don’t have to decide whether they are going to pay their bills or get healthy food”.
It’s clear to see that the PATCH’s growth and success is the result of the hardwork and dedication from its employees, volunteers, and community supporters. It stands as an amazing model for what can be achieved in a short amount of time through community cooperation. We can’t wait to see what is next in store for the PATCH and how it will continue to evolve!