Free Food Growing Courses!!

Pumpkins at Cultivation Place

We hope that got your attention!!

Pumpkins at Cultivation Place

With thanks to the National Lottery we are able to offer some free courses to people living in certain parts of Bristol. We have chosen the areas based on some work we undertook last year that focuses on things that stop people becoming involved in food growing and gardening, as we believe it is vital to the future of horticulture that gardening becomes accessible and a place everyone feels welcome.

And what do we mean by gardening? It’s not just pretty flowers. with that it’s likely that the word gardening in the uk is really one that is going to be relegated to the past, as when we look at the gardening media, programmes about gardening and gardening events, and see that gardening as a concept appears to be one that is white, middle class, and one that relies on access to land. We don’t think this is fair, or right, as we know that across our towns and cities there are people growing food, growing flowers and tending to spaces for nature, who are from our diverse and marginalised communities. We know that up and down the UK we see refugees and asylum seekers growing food and community on allotments and other community spaces. We also know that most allotment sites are microcosms of the community that surrounds them, and as well as being important for growing and for individuals to feel connected with our planet, they are also vital places for communities to meet and to begin to understand and integrate with each other. They are places where food cultures meet, where a diversity of seeds are exchanged and where generational skills are passed to new people to keep those skills alive.

So with that when we hear communities telling us that they don’t get involved because they don’t recognise themselves in what they see as gardening on TV, in the media and at events, we see that we need to take up the challenge and create a new world that comes from a garden, but a garden where we all feel at home. Where everyone is equal and where food and growing culture is celebrated whilst we work on the acts of food growing and healthy land management. Where gardening doesn’t mean owning land, but where the creation of a garden from lost, unloved space in a city is celebrated and seen as communities finding their their own responses to the huge global issues of the climate and biodiversity, as well as working towards food justice.

Of course there’s more to it than just enthusing and welcoming people. Access to land to grow is becoming more and more of an issue, and further and further from people’s reality. The most marginalised people in cities are always those with least access to land and to nature and when we think about Bristol and it’s high rises it’s not difficult to see that is as true here as anywhere else. Land is at such a premium that it’s nigh on impossible to access it without generational wealth, and again that most negatively affects marginal, or new communities in the city. But surely then that is an ask to our city council and others, to open up land, open up parks and public housing land, to communities wanting to grow. The huge tracts of land that surround our tower blocks, the marginal areas of the city, the railway sidings and space waiting to be developed, are all possibilities with the right policy in place and an understanding that as a species we need to connect with nature and with soil and where our food comes from.

Gardening has become a safe space according to the garden media. We are set to show that gardening and food growing is revolutionary and creates opportunities not just for people to connect, but to create jobs, through education and an understanding that if we are to decarbonise we need land based livelihoods and localised food systems. And this is our hope with these free courses. If people have not had the opportunity to have a go, to grow something, anything, how can they take the opportunities that gardening gives seriously? This is the opportunity to change that!

Eventually we hope this course will be available to all and that paying participants will subsidise free places, but for now check the list below of postcodes that qualify and we look forward to seeing you in the garden!

Courses are free for people from the following postcodes. BS2,BS3,BS4, BS5,BS7, BS11, BS13,BS14,BS16

Once signed up we will contact you and ask 2 questions-what is your postcode and most importantly what is it that makes you feel unwelcome in the gardening world?

Links to courses will be here and will be regularly updated

Welcome To Cultivation Place!

Pumpkins at Cultivation Place

Over the last couple of years we have been creating a space for learning at Speedwell Allotments. Cultivation Place will be home, in 2022, to a whole host of events that will support individuals and communities to grow more food, more pollinator friendly planting and also to look at gardening as a response to both climate and biodiversity crises. All our workshops and courses will be run by people who are experts in their fields, with our primary tutor being our founder, Sara Venn.

We also hope to run some events where we can bring people together for discussions that will create real change across the city and bring together networks to offer support and opportunity to all involved in community gardening across the city.

We will release the courses for next year in January, but in the meantime we will be running our How To Grow course one last time for 2021, beginning on October 2nd-the details are in the link below!

And watch out for our autumn/winter talks which will begin soon.

Get Growing at our Cultivation Place!

For the last few months we have been working hard behind the scenes on a space at our Cultivation Place at Speedwell, creating what is the equivalent of a tiny urban back garden, or a tiny yard space. We are so aware that for many renters, house sharers and flat dwellers, for people from marginalised communities growing food and creating beautiful spaces feels like something they may never be able to achieve, but we are aiming to set out to prove that is not the case and that anyone can grow some of their own food, no matter how pushed for space they might be. Growing and gardening is a space that many people don’t recognise themselves in and we know that it is vital that we change this, and this is, we hope, a start.

This work is being made possible by Linda McCartney Foods, who are celebrating their 30 year anniversary by supporting 6 community garden and learning spaces across the UK. Their kind funding is making it possible for us to offer several 6 week course to 18-28 year olds who feel they would like to learn about growing in rented or impermanent spaces and how to go about it but for whom access to growing education has never been possible due to costs or just general access issues or not feeling that they are seen in that sector. The 6 weeks will include learning on soils, on composts and composting, on growing plants from seeds and propagation, and give the participants the basis of designing small spaces and how to ensure they have all the knowledge needed to take their experience back into their communities and homes.

This is the space to be built into an urban, productive back yard garden!

This course will be practical, hands on experience that will include lots of opportunity to ask questions, experiment within the space that is being built and give all participants the building blocks of good gardening and growing, using ecological principles. We can offer 6 places per course, and the first course will begin on  Monday 19thJuly and be from 11am to 3pm. 

If you think this is the course for you or someone you might know drop an email to Sara Venn, our lead, and she will get back to you with further information. Her email is The course will be lead by both Sara and our community facilitator Luke Murray.

To follow what we are up to on this project follow our tags on social media-#GYOwithLinda #EdibleBristol

Low Input Gardening

Recently we worked with Bristol Waste on their Waste Nothing campaign, supporting the families taking part in the Waste Nothing campaign to learn some gardening and food growing skills. The aim of the campaign is to cut these families waste collections , not just of waste going to landfill but also cut down the amount going to recycling, especially of single use plastics. You can learn more about the campaign here.

The aim of our afternoon with the families was to introduce them to some growing techniques and talk about what sustainable gardening looks like. Most of the families have some experience of growing so we chatted about lots of things that we think might be interesting to everyone. We are super aware that whilst we all assume gardening is green, it really can be absolutely the opposite and we wanted to work through that with the families so they were confident moving forwards.

We began by talking about plastics and as we recently wrote a blog about this, we won’t repeat ourselves but we will just reiterate that Bristol Waste are not recycling any plant pots so the best thing to do is recycle them yourself by growing plants in them, or giving them away to community gardens, groups or schools where you know they will get used. Our blog about plastic use is here

We also spoke about compost. All the families have been given wormeries as part of the campaign but we would always suggest a compost heap of some type as wormeries will provide a very limited amount of compost. There are lots of compost bins available to buy, from the plastic dalek type to some very plush numbers that ensure your heap heats up fast, producing compost faster than a standard heap. You can also make your own with pallets and soon we will be, we hope, supporting better composting through workshops and a project we are working on with some UWE students who are looking at ways to heat your heap that are both sustainable and affordable. In the mean time we will shortly be putting together a blog on how to get the best from your heap as we believe it’s a vital part of creating a circular system in the garden. However, most people struggle to make enough compost and have to purchase some, whether it’s for seed sowing, containers or as a soil conditioner. We would urge everyone to ensure the compost they are using is peat free, and therefore not taking peat out of our precious peatfields that are the UK’s equivalent to rain forests in that they capture carbon and support rare and endangered flora and fauna. We use either SylvaGrow or Dalefoot Compost. 

We are aware that some people are keen to garden in line with vegan principles and in that case there is a product called Fertile Fibre which is certified as a vegan product

Away from plastic we spoke about buying plants. Many large garden centre groups buy plants in from abroad, despite there being a healthy local supply of plants to access. When these plants come in there is no knowing what they might have been sprayed with, whether they could be harmful to bees and other pollinators or even if they will survive in our climate. Shortly we will put together a list of nurseries and local garden centres that we support at Incredible Edible Bristol. And then of course there is the subject of seeds. The global seed market is run by 3/4 enormous organisations, interested only in profit and selling their product. In the last few years there has been an emergence of local, UK based. open pollinated seed growers and we would always suggest you buy from them first and support an industry that is working on creating seed sovereignty for the UK. For more information about seeds and seed sovereignty take a look at the Gaia Foundation, who are leading the work being done.

Of course saving our own seeds is also a vital part of creating circular economies within our gardens, and is something we can all do. There is loads of info about seed saving at the Real Seeds website.

For Incredible Edible Bristol a sustainable future where we can all share the skills we need to learn more about growing food, creating habitats for nature and supporting the creation of more edible landscapes is key to what we do. If you’d like any help or support to create a garden in a lost or unloved space in your community, where we can support you to create a healthier community, just get in touch!!

Make Sunday Special-The Fishponds Edition!

Today we will be or have been depending when you are reading this post, at the Make Sunday Special day in Fishponds. At the Fishponds garden this year we have grown loads of different varieties of potato, and we will be giving some of these away, as well as giving children the opportunity to make their own fresh salad and take it home for their tea. We grew the potatoes for several reasons; firstly we wanted to show case different potato varieties but we are also aware they are great at breaking up the soil they are growing in and this was definitely needed in the garden on Straits Parade.

We have also been donated some vegetables by the Co-op in Fishponds and by the wonderful Simms Hill Shared Harvest, and these will all make up what we are giving away today. A lot of what has been donated are carrots so below are 2 recipes-one for a warm patato salad and one for carrot and coriander soup, the perfect thing to make when you have a glut of carrots!


We really look forward to seeing you there and hearing about the exciting things you chose to make with your goodies!! Don’t forget to post photos to our Facebook group or our page, or tag us in the photos on Twitter or Instagram!!

Carrot and Coriander Soup

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
450g/1lb carrots, sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1.2 litresl/2 pints vegetable stock
large bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions and the carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
Stir in the ground coriander and season well. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Whizz with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth. Reheat in a clean pan, stir in the fresh coriander and serve.


Warm Potato Salad

500g pack baby new potato
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
finely grated zest and juice unwaxed ½ lemon
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 spring onion
, thinly sliced diagonally

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 12-15 mins until just tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the mustard with the lemon zest and juice, and slowly whisk in the oil to form a smooth emulsion. Season to taste.
Drain the potatoes and tip into a large bowl. Drizzle over the dressing and gently mix. Leave to stand for 15 mins to allow the potatoes to absorb the flavours. To serve, stir the parsley and spring onions into the potatoes. Season to taste and serve immediately.

Spicy Parsnip Soup

We harvested a huge amount of parsnips from the Millennium Square Urban Allotments on Thursday and had a conversation about what you can do with parsnips other than roast them. One of the easiest and tastiest things to do is to make a spicy parsnip soup which is sweet warming and delicious. It can also be made in an enormous batch and frozen for use later on!!


So what do you need?

6 large parsnips

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

1 chilli/chilli powder

1 ltr veg stock from a cube

Peel and chop the parsnips and put them in a pan, cover them with water and boil until they are soft.

In the meantime fry the onion until it starts to go soft and then chop up and add the garlic and the chilli if you are using a fresh one.

Once the parsnips are ready, drain them, put them back in the pan and add the onion, garlic and chilli mix as well as half the stock. Whizz with a hand blender and continue adding the stock until the soup is the consistency you like.

And serve!!

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


That Apple Flapjack Recipe!

For Apple Day apple flapjacks were made and several folk have asked for the recipe so here it is. It is a slightly altered version of one from the Apple Source Cookbook which, if you have lots of apples each year, is worth buying. It’s very simple but delicious.

140grams self-raising flour

3tsp cinnamon

200g demerara sugar

170grams rolled oats

230grams butter

2-3 apples

Buttered brownie tray or square cake tin

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together.

The put the butter and sugar into a pan and gently heat until both are melted. Add this melted mix to the dry ingredients and mix together well.

Put half the mixture into the bottom of your cooking tray. The peel and slice your apples and add those to the top of the mix, finally adding the last half of the mix on top of the apples. Cook at 160 (fan), 180 for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before cutting into pieces.

And then enjoy!!


FED UP Info Sheet is ready for you!

fedup-infosheetLast Thursday, in collaboration with PRSC, we hosted a Food & Film Night. A massive thank you to everyone who came out, braving the cold, to eat wholesome food and watch FED UP with us. We hope what the movie shared about sugar, the food industry and metabolic diseases has inspired you to either make changes for yourself, or spread the word that growing and cooking our own food can liberate us in so many ways.

We promised a hand out of links and information relating to the night – including James’ Hoppin’ Johns recipe – and so FED UP info sheet, and also below on this page, in case you prefer it that way. 🙂


Relating to the Film – the official website.

Loads of resources on The Issue page. Here are some of our favourites:

And a list of all the experts, should you wish to follow their work here:

A couple of extra links of our own


Relating to the Food

IMAG1732Hoppin’ Johns recipe (Serves 4)


1 ½ cups dried black-eyed beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion +
2-3 spring onions
2 bell peppers (I used red and green but whatever you like)
3 sticks of celery
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or 1-2 tsp Tabasco Chipotle sauce.)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups of vegetable stock


Rinse the black-eyed beans in a sieve or colander then move to a medium container and cover them with a couple inches of water. Let them soak overnight or for at least 6 hours. After they have soaked, drain the peas and set aside for cooking.

Chop up the onion, bell peppers, and celery. Using a large pot, warm up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it starts to brown in some places, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and celery and cook until they get a little soft, about 3 minutes. Take the chipotle peppers and scrape out the seeds. These can be quite spicy, so taking out the seeds helps you keep that heat to a minimum (If you prefer it hot then keep some or all of the seeds in). If you can’t find the peppers in adobo (sauce of garlic, vinegar, paprika) then you can use 1-2 tsp of Tabasco Chipotle sauce (to taste) in their place. Chop up the chipotles and dice up the garlic real fine. Add both to the pot and stir it up. Add the thyme, oregano, paprika, black pepper, bay leaves, and salt and cook for 30 seconds. Toss in the drained black-eyed beans and the stock and bring it to a simmer.

Let it simmer uncovered until the beans are tender (about 30 minutes). If you start running out of stock before those are ready, add a little more stock or water. If the beans are tender and you’ve still got too much stock in there, just drain some off. The beans should thicken the stock as it simmers and reduces.

Serve this seasonal standard over your favorite kind of rice, topped with some chopped spring onions, and with a side of greens for extra luck! I like to use long brown rice and kale for greens but whatever you have is fine. You can even use vinegar based hot sauce (like Tabasco) on it and take it to another level.

You’ll find other recipes, including those for eating on a budget on the Fox + Monkey blog. 


Getting and staying in touch

Incredible Edible Bristol                                                            Fox + Monkey
Twitter: @EdibleBristol                                                                 @FoxandMonkey
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*There’s also an Incredible Edible Bristol group which you can join if you want to be more involved.