As we head into the new year we are starting to open up opportunities for new core team members.
Our core team are the community gardeners that make all this work possible. They join us at work parties, at events and in gardens that we are supporting and get the occasional opportunity to visit places with us. And alongside that we promise to support them to learn growing skills, taking them with us on the journey of the seasons, sowing, propagating, planting out crops, maintaining them and then of course harvesting. Core team members need nothing but enthusiasm when they join us, and our gift to them is a year of practical horticultural skills……
To join the core team a commitment to join two of our four hour work parties per month is needed, but there’s no need for any skills or tools as we will bring those with us, to you.
Do you think this might be you? If you would like further information please do get in touch with us and we can have a conversation. The email to get in touch with us on is firstname.lastname@example.org
As we head into the new year we are starting to open up opportunities for new core team members.
We hope that got your attention!!
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
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……
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 email@example.com
Here is our plan for the next few weeks in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisisRefocus on becoming food producers and creating learning opportunities for people wanting to begin to grow.
Led by our Head Gardeners, our spaces in both Speedwell and Avonmouth will concentrate on becoming as productive as possible and providing food directly into their communities.
Our core team will work with the safety parameters to make sure this happens and we will continue to share our stories through our website and to social media channels.
Our aim is also to grow enough plant material to ensure that the city centre gardens can be made as productive as possible as soon as we can get back into them safely, ensuring there is a fresh food available across the city as soon as the crisis calms.
We are suggesting to people that there are several ways to get involved.
Firstly, follow our social media for information about growing and how to start in your space, whether it’s a tiny balcony, a small garden or an allotment plot.
If you have seedlings that are surplus to requirement please let us know and we will ensure they get well used.
If you want to volunteer we will have plenty of opportunities once the crisis is over, but in the meantime FareShare South West are looking for people to help ensure our most vulnerable friends and neighbours have access to food, and farms are desperate for pickers, which will be paid work. We’ll post opportunities to our social media platforms.
And finally, we urge everyone to stay at home, stay well and stay safe.
We are living in unprecedented times and as such, and with little leadership from government, we are finding ourselves tasked not just with the safety of ourselves, but also our community gardeners and those with whom we work. Because our number 1 priority is and always will be our incredible community of gardeners, we have decided that for the next few weeks, and by that we hope we mean weeks and not months, that we are cancelling all work parties except those at the Incredible Learning Zone and at the gardens in Millennium Square, where we feel we are more in control of the whole environment and can support social distancing where we can’t in other gardens.
This will mean that in the next weeks these spaces will get more than their fair share of time and we will be able to return to other gardens once we feel it wise and safe to do so.
In the meantime we would like to remind everyone that all produce in the Edible Bristol gardens is there and available to everyone in the city, for free, so please do help yourselves as crops become available. We will update Facebook and Twitter once we know crops are ready to be harvested and we will concentrate on getting Millennium Square filled with produce as quickly as we can so that there is fresh produce available to all asap.
In the meantime we hope everyone will stay safe. If you’re a core team member the WhatsApp group will be buzzing and we’ll keep you up to date daily.
Over the last 4 years Incredible Edible Bristol have worked tirelessly on our Bearpit Garden, a now internationally renowned space, creating a place of calm in the chaos. Our commitment to this garden continues, and although for a while our open volunteer work parties in the garden will cease for the safety of our volunteers, our core team will continue to maintain the garden. We will be working alongside the wider stakeholder group to ensure that the safety of any of our team there, whilst supporting that stakeholder group with time and commitment.
Our achievements in the space are obvious to see. A garden full of fruit, vegetable, edible flowers and herbs, available to all.Work parties filled with people there to make change in the centre of a city they are proud to call home. Support from the wider horticultural world, and a call to come and talk about this garden from across the globe. The garden, to this day, has suffered no vandalism and regularly as we work people tell us what a transformation we have achieved. An achievement we would never have been able to make without the support of over 3,000 hours of volunteer support in the space.
Garden writer, author and Bristolian Lia Leendertz says of the space……
“I’ve been so delighted to see the revival of the Bearpit, and the garden is such a central part of this. I’ve lived in Bristol all my life so I know what the Bearpit has been: a completely neglected and overlooked space, a place to rush through as fast as possible to get from A to B. Now it looks cared for and loved, and there are people there tending and working, creating something. It’s beautiful to see plants growing in what would otherwise be a sea of concrete and cars. This is such a crucial junction for pedestrians in Bristol that it really deserves to be looked after and turned into something even more special.”
So now we ask you as a city to stand with us and support that wider stakeholder group to be able to turn the space into one of safety and inclusion for the 455,000 people of Bristol. On Saturday, along with Bearpit Bristol CIC, and supported by Bristol Waste Co, we will begin the work we hope that we can continue, by beginning the big clean up. There will be the opportunity to join us to garden, to mend containers, and to sow the seeds of hope that this extraordinary space, a gateway to our city, can once again thrive.
For further info please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This year we are really excited to be working with Avonmouth Community Centre, Severnside Community Rail Partnership and the Incredible Edible Network to support families to grow their own food in their gardens and in community spaces.
We’ll be providing 25 families with a raised bed, which we will make with them at a free workshop in March, compost, plants and seeds, to create a growing space in their gardens. Along with this we will hold monthly events at the community centre, where we will have plants to give to the attendees as well offering lots of support and advice on how to get the best from their metre square garden. And in case they are concerned about what their children will do during this event, we’ll be holding a children’s event in the community centre garden, which will see gardening mixed with forest school in a fun and enjoyable way for 6-11 year olds.
So what will the families grow? Well that will be up to them. On 17th February we will be at the community centre where Avonmouth residents who are interested in taking part can come along and find out more! At that meeting we will be talking to people about what they would like to grow, and from that conversation we will order the plug plants that are the most popular choices. This will mean if you want to grow salad and tomatoes, you can but equally if you want to grow kale and pumpkins that will be fine too. We hope that all the families will show that, despite growing in the same, relatively small space, there are lots of things that are possible to grow in a metre square garden, with huge success.
Then at the end of the project we’ll hold a GardenAlong Festival, celebrating all the produce that has been grown, and all the amazing things that have happened or will happen with that produce!
How do I get involved we hear you shout?
Well first and foremost you need to live in Avonmouth. Then come along to the meeting on 17th February at the Community Centre in Avonmouth and sign up for the project and we’ll give you the dates for the events over the next few months, along with any other information you might need to know.
And in the meantime, if you would like to know any further information, please contact email@example.com or call 07786 194805.
As you will all know, we are a part of a large movement of Incredible Edible towns and cities that span not just the UK but also the globe. This movement was inspired but the work of Incredible Edible Todmorden and has been supported by the Incredible Edible Network, founded by Pam Warhurst, since around 2012. Our founder, Sara Venn, is also Vice Chair of the IENetwork and along with others involved has been working very hard to bring together a project called Roots and Branches that will see 6 Beacons across the UK help to support new groups to form and established groups to bloom.
Incredible Edible is not just about food growing or community gardens, but is about spinning the 3 Incredible Plates. Those plates, of community, business and learning mean that in every place across the UK the work is done differently whilst the ethos is the same. For some the business plate is about supporting local, for others it is about working with businesses around funding. For some learning is all about schools when for others it is about upskilling communities. It’s about finding the way to create your local solutions to global issues and bring your communities together. It’s a powerful tool!!
Recently the National Lottery agreed to fund this work, and we were all excited to announce this project yesterday.
So what can you expect? Well, business will be as normal but we will be in a position to support more growing in public spaces both in and around the city of Bristol but also further afield in the south west area. Sara and the other Beacon leads from across the UK will be ensuring that there is available information on a new Incredible Edible Network website for new and interested groups to be able to access for information about how to get involved with Incredible Edible where ever you are in the country, and more importantly share the mistakes they all made to ensure new groups have a smoother ride!!
The Incredible Edible Network has received £400,000 for this work, of which about £12,000 will be available to Incredible Edible Bristol over 2 years, and with which we will be supporting new groups and individuals to learn more about becoming Incredible Edible and about growing in general. If you would like any further info please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
In case you’d like to know who the other Beacons are, they include Incredible Education in Salford, Incredible Edible Wakefield, Incredible Edible Dunstable, Incredible Edible Conwy and Middlesborough Environment City, all of whom are doing extraordinary work across the UK!!
Plants are always one of our biggest challenges and we are very fortunate to have some local nurseries and garden centres who regularly donate to us, either stock they can no longer use or plants that we have cheekily asked for. However, gardens such as the Bearpit and the Quakers Burial Ground, our Edible Park, are large and often what appears to be a large number of plants actually really don’t go very far.
The other challenge with the Quakers Burial Ground is it’s shade. A magnificent plane stands in it’s midst which throws shade across most of the garden and although that is of course welcome on a hot day, it’s a challenge to find plants that will be happy to live under and around it.
So imagine our absolute joy when we were offered an entire show garden of plants from RHS Tatton, by garden designer and friend of Incredible Edible Bristol, Giulio Passarelli. I met Giulio in Sheffield on my trip to meet Ron Finley in 2014 and we have remained in touch and when he found out that he had been given the opportunity of making a show garden this year, Giulio was determined that we have the plants.
Now some people have assumed that what this means is that we will be recreating the garden, but that could not be further from the truth. there will be no putting down of an unwanted, and unconsulted about garden in a space where it is assumed local volunteers will look after it. That has been done far too many times and sadly often ends up with a sad looking garden in an even sadder looking space. What we will be receiving is the plants to do with as we will. To spread out amongst our gardens and to make change in the spaces that we are already working in.
The plants are not edible so will not be appropriate for many of our gardens but for spaces such as the Quakers Burial Ground and The Bearpit Garden, where beauty jostles with productivity , they will add an extra dimension to what we already do. And they will continue to help us not just to create beautiful and productive gardens in lost and unloved spaces, but they will support us to continue to challenge and question the ways in which public space is used in our cities.