While the moorings provide shore power, water, and a sluice, all boats are by their nature conceived to minimize use of energy and allow independence of land-based services for as long as possible. Also, boats are characteristically excellent examples of designs that maximize storage and save space. The moorings are a tightly knit community that shares resources, information, and services. Formal meetings & informal get-togethers ensure all matters are communicated amongst moorers and decided consensually.
The Allotment Barge
The heart of our gardening endeavours is now our Floating Allotment, which was established in 2009 with the help of Shoreditch Trust and Capital Growth. Here we grow salads, vegetables, fruit, and herbs for our own use. Produce is also used for food offered on our Pop Up Cafes and Open Days. We create our own compost and don’t use any pesticides, making all produce truly organic. The allotment was home to a flock of domestic ducks too, recently lost to a fox. We hope to reestablish the ducks at the earliest opportunity, as they supplied us with eggs, frequently used for Open Day cakes, and were very popular with visitors. We believe the allotment barge to be a true community asset and a local attraction into the bargain, being popular with towpath users and local residents alike.
This floating garden also provides a habitat for bees, butterflies, ladybirds, lacewings, dragonflies, mayflies, and other insects vital for the waterside food chain, as well as offering perching space, cover and food for song and other birds, in line with CHUG wildlife objectives.
This year the seedlings for the allotment were supplied through a couple of grants: our ‘Constant Garden’ sees us growing a variety of edibles: Potatoes, lettuces, cabbages, beetroot, spinach, leeks, w ild rocket, chard, onions, carrots, peas, celery, cauliflower, and a series of herbs. Planting, pruning, watering, weeding, and general care is organised through our Garden Group.
We have been successful in a bid for a community composting scheme sponsored by Hackney Council, which will give us state-of-the-art composting equipment, smell-free and efficient. Once the equipment is set up & running, hopefully later this summer, we hope to be able to supply compost not only for our own gardening efforts, but also for green-fingered residents of Kingsland Wharves.
One of CHUG’s core objectives is to protect and enhance the wildlife in the basin and its environment.
When we first arrived in Kingsland Basin it was abandoned, surrounded by low sheds & buildings accommodating light industry and brownfield sites. Over the last thirty years we have worked tirelessly to conserve the wildlife and improve conditions for wild plants and animals to thrive: we planted trees and shrubs to create safe nesting sites for birds and bats, and installed boxes and feeders. We sowed wild flowers, and created beetle banks. Kingsland Basin transformed into an oasis of green within the city, and became a haven for insects, song and sea birds, bats, amphibians, fish and shellfish.
Focal points of our efforts have been:
> The seams of the (former brownfield) sites along basin, where wild trees & shrubs used to grow
> The so-called ‘island’ in the southwest corner of the basin, formed with dredging material in the 1980s
> Pots & planters along our pontoons and walkways
> The public towpath
The last decade has seen all but a few trees and bushes in the basin lost to housing developments, with many habitats destroyed during the construction works. Now that development on the majority of sites is complete, we are determined to re-create shelter for wild plants and animals. We are committed to contribute to biodiversity in this urban setting, and believe that an environment in which wildlife is thriving is a community asset, giving visual and spiritual uplift to all able to enjoy it. Our ultimate aspiration is to see the return of the kingfisher, last seen five years ago.
We recently received the Capital Bee grant, an exciting prospect for increasing biodiversity in the local area. The keeping of bees provides a boon to the pollination of plants veg and flowers in the surrounding area, any local resident with a window box should be seeing the benefit of our bees tending their crop. We hope the bees will become a great educational feature for the school kids and canoe groups that come into the basin. If you want to help out our bees pop down to one of our open day events and buy a honey sample stick.. All the money we raise from wax and honey goes back to our bees.