Our City Centre Project

We were thrilled last week that our exciting project, supported by the Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District, was launched as a part of the #GreenerBristol campaign. We have been planning and working on the raised beds for several months, working with a local carpenter and maker to design the beds especially for the city centre.

There are 35 beds in all, and the project will bring several things to the city centre. All of the plants in the beds are, of course, edible, and we will share lists of what is in each bed on a separate page along with instructions of how to harvest and when. Whilst none of the beds contain what we might see in allotments or market gardens, they are filled with plants we regularly use in our edible landscaping and are all fairly low maintenance, and so super useful for those wishing to grow some food but short on time.

The joy to us of this project, as well as the opportunities for collaboration it has brought us both with the Business Improvement District and the organisations who have supported us by offering some maintenance, is that it gives us the opportunity to bring seasonality to the city centre. Many of the plants, whilst being perennial and coming back year after year, are only harvestable for a short period whist they are fruiting, and equally for some once they have flowered it’s wise to stop harvesting, and leave them to concentrate on growing. This is why it’s so great to have the signs on the beds that we can change as the plants go from season to season. and let everyone know what’s ready and what isn’t.

It’s also fabulous that we can do projects like these as it means we can support local growers and nurseries. All the plants were grown in the Bristol area and bought through Riverside Garden Centre in Southville, another local collaborator and social enterprise.

Whilst the plants bed in and begin to grow please bear with us. It won’t be long until you can harvest a few berries, some herbs or some leaves to take home for your tea!!

The Secret Garden

Since 2015 we have worked with Severnside Community Rail Partnership to bring food growing to the Severn Beach Line, beginning with the Station Buffet project that included adding two containers that are also bike stands, to each station along the line.

Following on from that work we have begun a new project with Severnside CRP at Avonmouth railway station, on a piece of wasteland just behind platform 2. Working with the community, community payback teams and corporate volunteers our aim is to turn this space from a wasted piece of land into a garden that is both beautiful and productive and can be used as a community asset in the community.

In the garden we will grow food that will be used by the community, including the very successful lunch club at Avonmouth Community Centre and we hope also to be able to support the North Bristol Food Bank with some produce. We also hope to grow a quantity of fruit trees in the garden, to both provide fruit for the community but also to mitigate against air pollution. The garden already has a native hedge that shields it from the site next door, but it is very much made up of brambles so we may look to reinvigorate that too, with edible but native hedging.

We’ll keep you updated as we move things along and look forward to inviting you into the garden soon.

Bearpit Garden Update Summer 2019

We have worked on the garden in the Bearpit, St James Barton Roundabout, since 2014 when the Bearpit Improvement Group first asked us to come up with designs and ideas around creating a food based garden in the space. Since then over 3,000 volunteer hours have gone into the garden, with people from all over the city coming to support the creation of a beautiful and productive space in the city centre. Many people have stopped and said what a difference the garden has made to the space and over the years it has become an international example of what can be achieved using great design and good horticulture by grassroots community groups. It has been visited by people from all across the world, Including Norway, Korea and Ireland, and it has led to Incredible Edible Bristol being invited to speak with local authorities, grassroots groups and others both across the UK and in other countries.

At this point we must say again, as we have previously, that we are 100% committed to this garden.

However, over the last year there have been issues. Firstly our container and propagation area, the central point of our operations, were squatted and that left us in a very difficult position, unable to continue with other projects across the city as we had no space to work from. There has been some shocking online bullying and finally on Christmas day our founder, whilst recovering from a stroke, was threatened online. Throughout all of this we continued to work in the space, believing that it was the right thing to do and that the garden was worth fighting for.

However, last month, at our monthly work party, we were abused by the community living in the space, with our volunteers being subjected to sexual harassment and abuse from one person who claimed “This is our Bearpit, you are not welcome here”.

Whilst we are 100% committed to the garden we are 110% committed to keeping our volunteers safe and so have decided that until the space is safe that we are no longer able to offer volunteering opportunities in the garden of the Bearpit.

We think this is very sad for several reasons but mainly because we believe that in a divided society creating spaces of beauty in unlikely places supports bringing people together, helps them have conversations and brings to the fore that we all have more in common than that which divides us. From the beginning and right up to the  last work party in the space we have had people come along from every postcode in Bristol, of all ages and from many of our diverse communities and with them they have brought joy and enthusiasm for the creation of change in that city centre space. But they have also brought their truth and their concerns about the space and have been there to support a better, more inclusive space for the city they call home. We are saddened that their wishes for the garden and the Bearpit as a whole have been trodden on by the few. We hope in time we can begin to pick up those dreams and continue work on the garden.

Until that time we are still very active across the city and you can find out more in our updates here and on social media.