The Skip Garden is essentially a horticultural garden, but it has the unusual feature of being portable. It can be moved because it is built on spare land made available free by a property developer, Ardent. As the land becomes needed for development, the garden moves to its next location. It has moved four times so far.
The garden grows flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs. There are also beehives and chickens. Visitors can go to the Skip Garden Café and sample delicious food that has been grown in the garden and prepared in the Skip Garden Kitchen.
The Skip Garden site contains various constructions. There are the skips, converted into growing beds for flowers, herbs and vegetables. There is a poly-tunnel greenhouse and a hothouse. There are various communal spaces and an outside oven, as well as two beehives, an insect hotel and a hen coop with two hens currently in residence. There is The Hide – a Moroccan yurt with a wood burning stove. And of course there is the Skip Garden Café and the Skip Garden Kitchen.
It is built using recycled materials – which are mostly from the Kings Cross construction site. You can see the recycled components – notably the skips, which have been adapted to provide the growing beds. The hot house is constructed from recycled window frames.
The project has been supported by an educational charity called Global Generation, and developed and run by volunteer effort. Students from the Bartlett School of Architecture designed elements of the garden – the greenhouse, the hothouse and the insect hotel. Students from the University of the Arts of London (Central St Martins) work in the garden.
The Skip Garden project started around seven years ago and is currently based at the side of Lewis Cubitt Park. During that time, the Kings Cross area has seen other complementary initiatives such as the Pond Club. This was part of a temporary art installation and comprised a swimming pool able to accommodate 40 swimmers. The pool was cleaned entirely naturally by plants planted around its edge. There has also been a theatre in the vicinity, located where Google’s offices are going to be.
The Skip Garden is a community project. Young people from Camden, Islington and Southwark help in the garden and in the café. This promotes awareness of the natural world and enables the young people, termed the ‘generators’, to learn new skills not typical of urban life. The café offers work experience and employability programmes to those often marginalised by society, such as young people with special needs, the elderly and refugees. An aim is to combine activities such as supporting bees, carpentry, urban food growing, cooking, and eating together with dialogue, storytelling, creative writing, silence and stillness.
There is another Skip Garden at Canada Water. When the Kings Cross development reaches completion, it is hoped to make Canada Water the new permanent base for the Garden.
Most of the features of the Skip Garden can be seen as you walk along the roadway, but why not step inside, explore and enjoy their delicious food.