In this new series, we are introducing you to the innovation pioneers of Ealing – small businesses with big dreams of doing new or better things to benefit Ealing and beyond.
In November last year, Ealing Council launched its pioneers’ fund, a scheme that provides grants to small and medium sized businesses to help them grow, develop new products or expand their workforce while stimulating the local economy. The £1million pot was shared out among 12 Ealing businesses, that could demonstrate how the funding would help accelerate growth and create new jobs.
Meet Cultivate London
Since 2010 Cultivate London has been encouraging and helping local communities to better connect with their green spaces by sharing horticulture and environmental knowledge.
Auberon Bayley, CEO says: “We raise the profile of green spaces in urban settings and empower communities to make the most of the opportunities to grow edible foods and plants. We also engage with families to try to make it into something that’s normal and part of their lives, particularly in areas like South Acton where we are based and do lots of work.”
Cultivate London does this through training and engagement programmes, including work experiences, apprenticeships and employment.
Auberon adds: “We are trying to get people to take notice of the benefits of growing – whether on a balcony or in a communal garden. Some people want to volunteer and even take on a space themselves. We would support them through ideas and materials and follow up with mentoring. The most popular things to grow are tomatoes, beans, herbs. Depending on which cultural background people have – a bespoke range based on what they are used to eating. For example, some try to grow olives and other Mediterranean things.”
How it started
Auberon joined Cultivate London in 2015 to start the social enterprise aspect. He says: “I applied for the job as I was inspired by the story, especially since I have a background in gardening – mostly community-based. I spent five years working in commercial landscape and I have always wanted to ‘marry’ good gardens/gardeners to the community. When I saw that Cultivate London was trying to do that, I wanted to be part of it.”
Making a difference
During the pandemic, more people wanted to get involved and volunteer.
Auberon comments: “That has now decreased because people have gone back to work. We are trying to give everyone opportunities regardless of the time they can commit taking care of green spaces.
“Having a community garden will most probably not solve your family budget crisis. But what we hope it does is making people aware that it is not impossible to have something on your plate if you don’t have a lot of money. Community gardens are also about sharing and support, which can make a difference.”
“We are exploring whether there is more we can do. We started a project – a pilot plot that we hope can make an impact on people’s access to food consistently that wouldn’t cost them too much.
Auberon continues: “We have two other partners as part of a small engineering team specialising in circular economy models. We are developing a small system that will take the green waste from local schools and then produce liquid feed compost and energy. They will grow crops for the school and the local community via a community garden.”
“We are also looking into helping with the waste transportation and collection and developing artificial intelligence (AI) with University of West London that means you could operate this system across multiple sites from one side.”
Good jobs for Ealing
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for decent living incomes says: “It’s fantastic to have businesses like Cultivate London based in Ealing that educate and help residents connect to a green space near them. Pioneering businesses like these are an integral part of Ealing’s ambition to be THE place for innovation, as outlined in our Plan for Good Jobs. We are pleased to be able to support them in lots of different ways, including with this pioneers’ grant.”
Get business updates from the council to learn about any upcoming business support or grants.