About me

Hello, I’m Mark, I'm inspired by how container gardens can bring joy and beauty to our cities - and change the way we live.

Vertical Veg inspires and supports growing food in containers.  I help you to transform a small space - like a balcony or patio - into an abundant container garden, filled with herbs, fruit, veg, beauty and life.

The idea for Vertical Veg came after cycling round London one day, noticing the many empty balconies, rooftops and other concrete spaces.

I imagined how wonderful it would be if more of them were filled with pots of herbs, edible flowers and fruit.  And the joy it could give to people tending them and to those walking by.

My container garden in November

I started Vertical Veg to:

  • Offer practical advice on everything from easy first growing projects, to how to create a highly productive edible garden in containers.
  • Find solutions to help you overcome the specific challenges of growing in the city – like lack of space & sun.
  • Pioneer – working with others – how to grow food abundantly and sustainably in containers using local, natural resources. And how to help feed our cities,  change our food culture and improve our wellbeing.

I’m inspired by how growing at home offers a window through which we can reconnect with nature, the local community and fresh, seasonal food. 

For many of us, it feels like a miracle to watch flower buds open, bees visit and to pick our own home grown food in the middle of the city. I’d love to help you experience the joy and magic of gardening, too.

Why is Vertical Veg needed?

Over half of the world’s population already live in cities. The UN predicts this will rise to two thirds by 2050. In urban areas, a high proportion of homes have no garden.

For example Somers Town, London, UK, 79% of homes have no garden and in central Newcastle, where I live, it’s 58%. 

But many urban homes do have alternative spaces that can become productive container gardens: a balcony, patio, roof terrace, or car parking bay for example. This has the potential to offer millions of people who don’t have gardens the chance to grow and pick fresh food every day.  To green our cities, and to reconnect those of us in the city with our food supply and nature.

My Story -and how Vertical Veg started

Wanting to grow food in London, I put my name down for an allotment in 2004. Five years later I found out it would be over twenty years until I got one! With nothing to lose, I started growing on my small balcony and window sills in 2009. Expecting the occasional bowl of salad, I was amazed discover we were soon picking food to add to nearly every meal. In 2010, I grew £900 of food on our balcony and window sills. 

The idea for Vertical Veg came after cycling round London one day, noticing the many empty balconies, rooftops and other concrete spaces. I imagined how wonderful it would be if more of them were filled with pots of herbs, edible flowers and fruit.  And the joy it could give to people tending them and to those walking by. My friend Martin came up with the name Vertical Veg to describe my growing – and since then there has been no turning back. 

In 2011, I moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, where I grew in two rented backyards before moving to our current home. I now have a larger container garden in the concrete yard outside our front door. And finally I’ve got that long awaited allotment. 

 

Vertical Veg in the Media

Guardian

My work has featured in local, national international media including:  

  • Fifteen articles in the Guardian newspaper.
  • BBC Radio 4’s Gardener’s Question Time (twice). 
  • BBC London News. 
  • Channel 4’s Love Your Garden with Alan Titchmarsh.
  • Which? Gardening Magazine & Permaculture Magazines
Where Vertical Veg has been featured

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