An update on Millennium Square Urban Allotments

The Millennium Square Urban Allotments are a really exciting project to be involved in and one that we here at Incredible Edible Bristol are extremely proud of. The project is one that is collaborative in that we are working with At Bristol, who own the land and who created the idea and Almondsbury Garden Centre who support the project with both time and sponsorship.  They began as a series of 5 raised beds that were full of sad and sorry shrubs and trees and the work required just to remove those was huge and carried out by professional landscapers with big diggers and other machinery. We then set about some soil improvement by adding approximately 2 tons of compost to each bed before we even thought about planting.

Being aware that we had removed some large trees, albeit quite unwell specimens from the space, our first concern was that we replant trees where they had been lost. With this in mind we set about planting apple and pear trees, all of which we ensured were UK grown and so able to withstand any particularly Bristish weather that might throw itself at them. Our plan was always that each bed would have a particular theme, but we also knew that the beds would require height as well as green and these trees, in the next 5 years, will create that. Already in spring this year, when they were flowering, they created a stunning display and that will improve year on year. The trees are on fairly small, but not dwarf, root stocks so will cope where they are without becoming too large and cumbersome, but still provide height in the space.

The themes of the beds are fairly self explanatory and are stil being worked on but the basic idea is that there are 2 vegetable beds, one herb bed and one soft fruit bed that at the moment is mainly strawberries with some rhubarb. The bed with the solar tree is destined to be a bed for pollinators now that At Bristol have their bee hive on the roof, so that we can be sure there is food available for the bees so they come along and pollinate our crops.

Ladybird larvae at work on broad beans

Ladybird larvae at work on broad beans


When we were discussing the beds we discussed how to deal with pest and disease and it was decided that however bad things got, we would use non chemical ways of dealing with these issues. We haven’t had much to deal with so far other than blackfly on beans which was eventually dealt with by the arrival of an army of ladybirds, and some fungal infection on the apple trees, but our ongoing promise is that all the beds will be managed without chemicals. With this in mind we went on to talk about what we would do if things struggled or failed and we quickly decided that we wanted the beds to be a learning experience for people, rather than perfect show type gardens, and so, with this in mind, we have left things alone to see how they would work rather than over gardening and replacing anything that might have looked a bit iffy. So if you see things in the beds that are looking less than perfect, we will let you know either on the boards or on social media what is going on with them so you can watch to see if they survive whatever is attacking them. We will also concentrate more next year on more focussed social media and blog posts around the beds and what is going on in them.

We know that food growing is a year round job and so we have worked quite hard to ensure there is something in all of the beds over the winter. There is a bed full of kale and cabbages, which hopefully the pigeons will leave alone so we have crops to harvest in early spring and we have planted lots of onions and broad beans. The broad beans are, of course, for early crops next year, but they are also an important green manure as they create nitrogen rich nodules on their roots which feed nitrogen into the soil in spring, when the new crops we are sowing will need it the most. Hopefully next year we will sow more green manures throughout the year in patches that are looking to be free for a short while, so that we continue to look after the soil without having to do too mch moving of tons of compost.IMG_3508

However, on a really positive note, At Bristol have installed a composter on their roof which is turning all of their food waste from the cafe into a beautiful, rich compost for the gardens. We are really excited to use that as both a mulch and a soil improver both overwinter and to mulch our crops next year.

As with all our projects our aim with the urban allotments is to create a space where volunteers can come along to regular work sessions and learn about food growing, and be inspired to take that knowledge back to their communities so that we can create more incredible food gardens around the city! Next years programme of work parties will be published soon and we look forward to sharing the next years growing with you as well as At Bristol and Almondsbury Garden Centre!!IMG_38860

A slightly sad update on our Edible Park

Sadly we have to announce that the bees and their beautiful hive that were in the Edible Park at the Quakers Burial Ground, have had to be, temporarily we hope, rehomed to a safer space. This is due to vandalism of the hive which obviously seriously compromises the safety of our bees and so had to be acted upon immediately. The hive has obviously had rocks thrown at it and been kicked and hit so has gone to a nature reserve on the outskirts off the city where we know it will be safe.

Sadly over the last few months we have had people sleeping both in the park and in the centre of the roundabout by St Mary Redcliffe. We feel it vital to point out that at no time have we had any issues with these people and we have had some great conversations with many of them about what we are doing and why. Not once have we come up against any negativity from them. However, it seems to us that all of these people, whilst desperately needing to access housing, also need addiction, and in many cases mental health help as well and sadly we are not able to offer that, although we are looking to work with agencies that will be able to offer that support.

So here we find ourselves at a bit of an impasse. We want our spaces to be inclusive and feel safe and accessible to all, but with the present situation we know that isn’t possible for everyone to feel. We want all our volunteers to come along to our work parties and enjoy themselves whilst learning and joining in with growing food in a safe and happy space but right now the Edible Park doesn’t always feel like that space.

So what are we going to do?

Well the one thing we are not going to do is give up!!IMG_4297

So far in the park we have spent weeks and weeks cutting back and removing overgrown shrubs to open up the space. We have taken out lots of overgrown ivy and piles and piles of weeds including beginning an ongoing battle with ground elder which we will make sure we win. We have planted over a thousand bulbs that will flower in spring, originally creating forage for our bees but avilable to all pollinators in the area. We have created an area for planting in early spring that will be full of perennial crops and the area at the back of the park that looks made to be a rockery is slowly being cleared so that we can use it for herbs in the spring and summer of next year. We have also planted apple trees and crab apple trees that are being trained into espaliers andare planing early spring sowings of pollinator friendly plants for around those fruit trees. We have linked into Avon Wildlife Trusts My Wild City project that has seen us plant some of the amazing plantes grown at Feed Bristol for that project, which is meaning we are a part of that exciting network of pollinator friendly planting across the city. We have added bird feeders and boxes.

So what we are going to do is ask for the support of the city.

And by that we do not mean financial support. What we mean is positive support. Come along and find out about what we are doing, where and why. Learn about our three spinning plates and how we are constantly fighting to keep them all spinning. Find out about how your children can access our education programme and ask your schools to get involved. Discover our food waste programme.  But most importantly become a part of our Incredible Edible family, which reaches 120 towns and cities in the UK and over 700 places worldwide. And all you have to do is eat, because “if you eat, you’re in”



Update on Our Very Special Schools Project

As you will remember from a few months ago, the Bristol Hospital Eduation Service was one of the schools that won our IncrEdible Schools competition last year and we, and a group of volunteers have been working hard this term to create real change on their allotment at St Werburghs so that the students at the school can access it safely and learn lots from being outside in such a beautiful spot. They are learning not just about food growing, but also about nature, about birds and their songs, about trees and plants and the joys of being outside. The allotment is one that is on the hillside in St Werburghs and apart from the looming site of Fairfield School in the distance and the trains on the track below, it’s hard to look around and believe you are in the city.


The school is full of some of the most vulnerable young people in our city and we are thrilled to be able to give them an opportunity to learn about food, nature and just “being” in a space that is safe as well as hugely biodiverse. Seeing them take fruit from the trees, watch birds flying around and not screaming every time they see a worm or an earwig is brilliant because it means they are starting to understand the space and join in with the project.

We have spent a considereable amount of time preparing an area at the front of the plot that was full of brambles and weeds, along with a very brave gooseberry bush that was holding on for dear life. The space is cleared and the decision was made to use a no dig method as the area is going to be for some fruit trees. A layer of cardboard was put down followed by a thick mulch of leaves from the school car park which will rot down nicely and then a thick layer of manure mixed with straw that we got from St Werburghs City Farm, just down the hill. Now we are just awaiting the trees, which are coming from Bristol City Council’s One Tree Per Child Project and we hope will be two apples and two pears on small root socks to keep them manageable.


You can get involved in this project! We meet at the cafe at St Werburghs farm every Wednesday at 1.30 and spend a couple of hours working on the site. There is no need to feel that you must come each week-it is a completely drop in group as all our work parties are across the city. If you are going to come drop us a quick line to so we have your email in case we cancel due to weather or other things we aren’t in control of!


Simple Pumpkin Soup Recipe

For Apple Day we made an enormous batch of pumpkin soup……..IMG_0233

And then it rained and we ended up freezing it. But we thought it might be useful to write up the recipe in case you still have Halloween pumpkins left to use up as it’s really simple and absolutely delicious!!

I’s quite hard to give exact amounts so we’ll give you the recipe assuming you are using the flesh of an avarage sized orange, round pumpkin. You can, however, use any type of pumpkin or squash for theis soup, or a mix of different types. We used Sweet Dumplin and Turks Turban which gave a really rich, deep flavour.

All you do is cut the pumpkin into quarters and take out the seeds and then peel and chop the flesh into smaller pieces and put into a roasting tin. Cover with olive oil, salt and pepper and put into a hot oven to roast. This takes about 40-50 minutes. Check the pan once or twice and give them a quick shake to make sure they are all cooking.

Whilst the pumpkin cooks, deseed 2-3 chilies, depending on how spicy you like things, and fry them off with a diced onion and 2-3 garlic cloves.

Once they are all cooked, put all the ingredients into a large bowl, add 1 litre of veg stock and blitz with a hand blender until it’s completely smooth. Then serve with a few toasted pumpkin seeds and creme fraiche as a garnish.

This is a great, warming soup for after attending a fireworks display or after a long walk in the country in the winter cold!! Don’t forget to tweet us your photos if you try this @EdibleBristol