Growing Futures 2024


Following a successful first year of Edible Bristol’s Growing Futures course we are excited to open up bookings for 2024

The aim of Growing Futures is to support participants to explore a deeper connection with growing food, supporting nature and land based futures, whether that is as a career or looking at self sufficiency.

Growing Futures is one day per week, February to October, every Thursday during Bristol term times, from 9.30-3 at Cultivation Place in Speedwell. There are also occasional visits to local producers and projects. During school holidays there is also the opportunity to come along to practical work parties on site.

The course involves lots of practical, hands on learning, from successful seed sowing, propagation, annual and perennial veg growing, to fruit trees and pruning, orchards and forest gardening. We support learning of circular systems, such as no dig, growing agroecologically and creating spaces and growing plans. All of this is backed up with theory based classroom sessions and with time allowed for reflection on subjects both with our team and peer to peer

Growing Futures is a great opportunity for exploration of land based careers and personal futures in light of the climate and biodiversity crises, and holds the group in a safe space to talk about these enormous issues whilst learning practical solutions. Whether participants are interested in land based careers or are just looking to create resilience in their own growing, the season opens up possibilities, networks and plenty of conversation, providing a safe space to explore, question and find your path onto a land based future.


Term 1

W/C 19thth February -w/c 25th March

This terms will cover basic agroecological growing principals including soil and bed preparation and management, composting, soil health and the soil food web along with seasonal seed sowing. There will be a focus on observation of the land to understand what it needs and how it behaves. There will also be a full session on pruning fruit trees, based at our Millennium Square Gardens.

Term 2

w/c 15th April-w/c 24thMay

This term we will look at the principles of agroecology and seasonality, focusing on utilising knowledge from term 1 and building on that. Working both in a polytunnel and in outside beds we will look at how to get the best harvests whilst still focusing on soil health, working with the seasons. Introducing productive margins for wildlife, as well as the importance of ponds and utilising any waste as materials for composting, and eliminating the need to buy in inputs. Alongside sowing and planting, intercropping and the beginnings of harvesting this term will be vital learning to build on in future terms.

Term 3

w/c 3rdth June- w/c 23rd July

Building on term 2, term 3 will focus on observation, plant health, maintaining land and healthy soils, alongside propagation and harvesting. This term will also see opportunities to hear farmers and growers speak about their businesses and projects. There will also be focus on business, from setting up to governance and ensuring your business model works for you and the land on which it relies.

Term 4

w/c 2nd September- 25hth October

Term 4 will look at preparation for the year ahead, alongside harvesting and winter growing. There will be a focus on good winter use of the polytunnel, alongside what can be grown outside for winter crops and to ensure the spring hungry gap is as short as possible. We will look at diversifying and creating opportunities over winter alongside looking at how land based businesses can support local communities. There will be opportunity to look back at the year, hear from land based business people and learn about local network that will support new land based businesses.

For further information and prices contact

And below is some feedback from this years cohort……


We are working with a group of water industry professionals, the city council’s allotment team and others on a dynamic project looking at water use across Bristol’s allotment community with a focus on Speedwell Allotments as that is where Cultivation Place is based.

Water is a precious resource and with hose pipe bans being implemented in the UK how long before watering allotments during the summer becomes prohibitive? As growers working with and supporting nature isn’t it up to us to reduce our mains use and look at cultural processes to hold water in the soil?

The aim of this project is two fold.

Aim one is to look at how much water we use and how much water we would need to save to never have to use mains water again which sounds like a big ask but we already know that in June we use approximately 1 Intermediate Bulk Container, or IBC’s worth which is 1000litres, and so assuming May, July and August need similar, that we are absolutely able to collect that water from sheds on site. However, we are also in talks with the Housing Association that runs the flats where the old Speedwell Baths are, to look at utilising water from their roof spaces which would enable far more water collection for the entire site, at no extra cost to plot holders.

Aim two is more about cultural processes within food growing and how they can support soil to collect and store more water that is available to plants. There are two reasons to look at this which are firstly that sustainable growing practices need to be quantified as water becomes a less abundant resource due to climate change. Also rain water is undoubtedly better for growing plants and saves on fertiliser use due to it’s chemical makeup and so it is always preferable to utilise what falls from the skies.

Of course it goes without saying that what we are really talking about is healthy soils, another important action to mitigate climate change.

Once we have the results we will, of course, let you know, but we’ll update here regularly.

We Need To Talk About The Bearpit

In March of this year, just as we had received funding to continue our work in the Bearpit, (James Barton roundabout) we were asked by the head of green and blue places in the city, to cease working on the garden as they had come up with a plan that was all about creating a pollinator rich garden where the garden we had worked on since 2016 was.

Now, for sure the garden was, at that point, far from perfect. The ravages of 2017 when the space was inaccessible, mixed with a lack of funding for the garden and then Covid on top of that, when all volunteering in public spaces was stopped, rightly, but the Bristol Parks team, meant that there was a lot of work to do in the space, but having procured funding from an outside source, which would have meant a team in the garden for a day a week, we were excited to bring the garden back to a place where food and pollinator rich planting was abundant.

Unfortunately what seems to have happened since is absolutely nothing. The plants are all overgrown, it’s covered in litter and filth, and it feels immensely disrespectful that a space that had been worked on entirely voluntarily, and which over the years had only cost Bristol Council £7,500 in funding in the first year, has been left to rack and ruin.

What also is of concern is that there was no consultation from the council on this decision, whereas before our garden was designed and planted we had spent days engaging with people in the Bearpit and those who used it regularly. Every single person we spoke to wanted to see nature and food as a part of the garden, which is why the garden was designed as a food forest.

We are really both sad and angry that this has happened. We have sat back and said nothing as we expected the council teams to respect the work that had been done and continue it in some way. But instead we see hugely expensive containers and baskets full of flowers that might be bright but which speak nothing to the climate or biodiversity crisis we have acknowledged.

As COP26 is happening we would like to call on the council to recognise the failure of this space, and a need to do better in public spaces, and especially in spaces that they have removed from community organisations with no consultation at all. The city centre ought to be a place of richness and abundance in spaces where planting takes place, and instead off which looks sad and neglected. From the Bearpit to the area around the Cenotaph and the fountains, the planting is unimaginative and where there could be rain gardens, vertical planting and food, there is nothing more interesting than you might see in a supermarket car park. We have acknowledged climate and biodiversity crises, and yet the city is not seeming to respond.

We would like to add that this is nothing against Bristol Parks department who’s support we have always been grateful for.

But this is a call to return the Bearpit to us, and fund us to do the work to recreate a garden that had international acclaim, brought in visitors from far and wide, and added to the culture in the city centre. And as a reminder here is what it looked like in it’s hey day……

The Incredible Flower Farm is open for new subscribers for 2022

In 2021 we opened the Incredible Flower Farm, growing flowers for folks who subscribed and who collected a beautiful bouquet twice a month from May to October. Throughout the year we have seen tulips, ranunculus, roses, snapdragons, sunflowers, dahlias and much more head into people’s homes, and are so pleased to see the joy on subscribers faces as the season progressed and new blooms arrived.

For 2022 we are able to offer a few more subscriber places, and we have decided to announce this now, a good few months before they will be available, so that people have an opportunity to buy a subscription for a loved one for Christmas. After all, what better way to say happy Christmas than to give someone a seasonal bouquet twice a month?

As with 2021 subscribers will be able to collect their bouquet from the flower farm itself every other Saturday from May to October. If you subscribe for a gift we will send you a voucher to give to the recipient and we will engage with them directly once the season has begun! If you’d like to find out prices and subscribe or know more please do email

Flowers from the Incredible Flower Farm

Winter Talks At Edible Bristol

Pumpkins at Cultivation Place

Whilst the weather is cold and the evenings dark, we thought it would be a good idea to create a series of online talks. All the gardeners and food growers who are joining us are people who are gardeners but are also climate, soil and social activists, who’s aim is to, in some way, support both climate and biodiversity crises through their growing practices. We will be adding to this list throughout the season and if there’s anyone in particular you’d like to hear do get in touch and we will see what we can arrange.

All funds raised will be ploughed back into our community work.

We begin on 4th November with Stephanie Hafferty talking about no dig gardening in her new garden.

On 9th December we have botanist and ecologist Becky Searle talking about soil health.

On 21st January we have Adam Jones talking about his no dig journey

And more will be announced as they are confirmed! Don’t miss out-the tickets are selling like hot cakes!!

Community Garden Week-If You Eat You’re In!

This week is Community Garden Week which obviously is close to our hearts. Gardens supported and run by communities, whether for food, for pollinators or to improve an area are really vital for neighbourhoods to feel that they are empowered to find their solutions to the global issues of the day.

Community gardening is often seen as a privileged pastime and one that is not always available to all, and this year we hope to begin to break down and truly understand the barriers to communities from getting involved. We have a new community consultant and he will be working in areas of the city to talk to local people about their food cultures, what they need to see to get involved and how involvement doesn’t just mean gardening.

At Incredible Edible Bristol it’s important to us that the gardens we support become community assets, not just allotments in pubic spaces. Places that are sustainable, that support rather than harm in the way they are looked after and maintained and truly healthy spaces. Somewhere to sit, to drink tea, to smell the scented plants, read a book, relax even if you are in the centre of the city. A place to connect with other people, other communities and other food cultures. A place to learn and a place to understand. And of course somewhere to pick a few things for your tea!!

Our motto, If You Eat You’re In sounds flippant but in reality it’s absolutely what we are aiming for; a city rich in food growing and food growing skills, where young people can find the jobs they desperately need by good use of public land, access to skills and markets and where locally grown food is available to all, and supports the rich food cultures we see across the city. A city where food is abundant and no one goes hungry.For some this might sound like a privileged pipe dream but we are determined to make it happen. If you’d like to join us, or have an idea for your neighbourhood, or for a piece of land close to your home, why not get in touch? We would love to hear from you.

Edible Fishponds Moves Forwards

As we move forwards, creating spaces for food with communities, we are very aware of creating food for all the communities in the city, and not just humans. Growing in an ecologically friendly way has never been so important, and especially in the parts of the city where there is huge competition for space. The Edible Fishponds gardens, on the busy Straits Parade are one of these spaces so we have set about creating gardens that can be sanctuaries for all.

To do this we have planted an orchard. Both spaces have had 5 new trees planted and as we carry on into the year those trees will be underplanted with herbs and edible flowers that will support humans and pollinators alike.The trees are quite mature and so will establish quickly and begin to create a harvest over the next two years, which will be available to the community of the area, as of course will be the herbs and flowers.

We’ll continue our monthly work parties in the gardens over the next months, putting in some small hedges of lavender, ensuring the trees get mulched and watered regularly, and ensuring the gardens continue being beautiful and productive. If you’s to come along keep your eyes on our work parties calendar and just pop along and get involved. Everyone, as always, is welcome. See you soon.

Siting the trees with our Incredible Community Gardeners