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……

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.

Response to the Declaration Of An Ecological Emergency in Bristol

Firstly we applaud the bravery of this declaration. It’s never going to be the right time, the appropriate time, to call an emergency, and there will always be what can be seen as hypocrisies, but the declaration itself shows a will for change and an understanding that that change is vital and needs to happen today.

Over the 6 years that Incredible Edible Bristol has been working, across the 50 sites we have supported there has always been conversation around growing food with nature and providing food for pollinators, birds and other creatures who are an important part of the city’s ecosystem. Sometimes this looks like leaving certain weeds in place, knowing that they are important for a certain individual at that point in the year, sometimes it’s about leaving crops to flower and go to seed, and sometimes this looks like using ornamental plants and herbs as important parts of the planting scheme and acknowledging that they are as important as the crops we are growing.

Planting fruit trees which flower over a long period, utilising perennial crops that offer food and habitat, creating habitats within the gardens and having an ongoing conversation around the importance of looking after wildlife have always been key to our work, along with sharing the skills so that individuals and communities can create their own spaces for food and wildlife.

However, it also means looking at how we grow and ensuring that we are not harming nature in order to create these spaces. Ensuring all our spaces are peat free and pesticide free is a vital part of what we do, and we would call on gardeners and growers across the city to go peat free and stop any pesticide use. We would also call for all organisations that manage land to do the same, to utilise biological controls where there is a need, but also to concentrate on creating and supporting ecosystems that support themselves, as we do. After all, once aphids appear so will the ladybirds and other natural predators!

We also think it’s an important point to say that whilst the ecological and climate emergencies are very similar they are also different and whilst there appears to be an emphasis on carbon, and planting trees, these emergencies are far more complex than just that. Of course we need to address carbon and carbon capture but we also need to create safe spaces for wildlife that are pesticide free and understand that as humans we have created these crises and it is up to us to make reparations for wildlife. Bringing ecology and good horticultural practice together to achieve this is vital.

We look forward to working towards a future where all of Bristol’s populations are healthy and thriving and to supporting these changes in the city.

#Bristol’s Urban Harvest

We are excited to announce that there are the beginnings of some harvestable crops in our city centre project, supported by the City Centre Business Improvement District.

In the beds at the Hippodrome, at Colston Hall and at the Bristol Royal Infirmary is red veined sorrel which can be chopped into salads as a leaf and gives a strong lemony flavour-you only need a couple of leaves as it’s an intense flavour.

Also at Colston Hall and the hospital are chives-just snip the individual leaves off-they are delicious chopped up small onto potato salad or with a bean salad. Once they start to flower, the flowers are also edible-as with everything in the allium family they taste like onions, although they are not very strong.

At Colston Hall there are also lots of nasturtiums flowering. Nasturtiums are not just beautiful but are such great givers, as every part of the plant is edible! The leaves add a peppery taste to salads, the flowers are edible and again give a subtle pepperiness to a dish, but also the seeds can be pickled and made into nasturtium capers, a delicious alternative to traditional capers. There are also thymes and marjorams ready to be gently picked.

So please do help yourselves. Only take what you need and if you’re on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook tag us in your posts with what you used your urban harvest for, and use the #bristolsurbanharvest

And look out for the blackcurrants and strawberries as they begin to ripen!!

Tobacco Factory Plants and Garden Market

Come and say hello at our first foray into a plant market!!

We’ll be selling some plants, some recycled garden beds and chatting to people about Incredible Edible Bristol, the Incredible Edible movement and answering questions from one and all!!

Please do come and say hello!!

Bearpit Work Party.

We have listened to you all, as well do and created lots of weekend work parties that you can come along and get involved with! This work party in the Bearpit will see us filling a raised bed, planting out strawberry plants, tidying the herb garden and generally having a good time!

We would love to see you there. remember all you need to bring is enthusiasm and we will provide the rest…..


Incredible Edible Launches “How To Garden”

Incredible Edible as a concept asks it’s groups to spin 3 plates of community, learning and business and this year, 2017, is going to be what we hope will be a great year for our learning plate.

To set this year of Incredible Learning off to a good start we are launching our “How to Garden” course, a practical and hands on learning experience which will be run by our founder and lead, Sara Venn, a professional horticulturist and grower.

The course will follow the year through, beginning in January this year and cover all aspects of gardening including growing food and flowers, soil health, pruning, propagating, and much, much more. Our aim by the end of the course is to have a group pf people leaving us who have the necessary skills and experience to successfully and confidently run their own garden, their own community project or go on to others courses that could lead them into a horticultural career.

For further information about the course, including costs and how to sign up, please email sara@ediblebristolorguk.wpcomstaging.com.


The Bearpit Garden Begins

For almost two years now we have been working with the Bearpit Improvement Group on the community garden and greening of the space at James Barton Roundabout, or The Bearpit. The project has hit several bumps in the road and been almost derailed but we are excited to announce that we have a date for the first of several planting dates over the spring and summer.

The garden is going to be an interesting one, which whilst being edible will also be immensely beautiful and calming in a space that is often chaotic and busy. The garden is going to be there to be used by all, to create a cooling atmosphere as well as being productive and a safe space to sit within nature in the centre of a bustling urban area. The first planting day will see three mature trees planted as well as the plants that will make the edges of the garden. These will be a mixture of aromatic herbs used as low hedging, stunning willows that are good not just for pea sticks but also for weaving and whilst growing for using up water and avoiding puddling in the space. The trees whilst all being edible are also interesting species often not seen in the city, with the main tree also offering a pun on being in a roundabout! More on that once they are planted.

If you would like to get involved with planting this garden, the session will be from 12-4 on April 13th. Why not pop down and have a chat with other members of the Bearpit Improvement Group and give us a hand to plant and begin an exciting transformation of an urban space?

If you would like any further info, please don’t hesitate to contact sara@ediblebristolorguk.wpcomstaging.com.IMG_4295

Urban Food Growing Trail 2015


The Urban Food Growing Trail was funded by these organisations.

Incredible Edible Bristol, Grow Bristol and Bee The Change collaborated in 2015 to create a series of gardens that lead from Temple Meads to Millennium Square.

There are now 14 gardens on the Urban Food Trail, and we are excited to bring vegetable tourism to Bristol. With a new map now in circulation, illustrated by a team led by Dave Bain, including Hannah Bailey, Dawn Cooper and designer Chris Woodward, it is now possible to walk from Temple Meads to the centre of the city, following a trail of beautiful and productive gardens that are full of food for everyone to help themselves to when it is ready…..

If you would like a tour of the trail by our founder Sara Venn or one of the team, please email sara@ediblebristol.org.uk, and we will organise that for you and your group.



8 Bed 1 Temple Meads

8 Bed 2 Temple Meads

7 The Wicking Bed

6 100 Temple Street

5 Thomas Chatterton’s House

4 St Mary Redcliffe Church Fruit Garden

3 The Edible Park

2 Anchor Square Herb Bed (At Bristol)

1 Millennium Square (At Bristol)



Read more about our work with Severnside and The Station Buffet project.

Anchor Square Herb Bed


Anchor Sq Herb Garden

The herb bed in Anchor Square was built and planted for the first Food Connections Festival in Bristol in 2014. Sponsored by Almondsbury Garden Centre, it is a beautiful raised planter filled with perennial herbs, including lavenders, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and three sages, pineapple, blackcurrant and traditional. We interplant each year with annual herbs such as parsley and coriander.

When the bed was first installed, during the Food Connections Festival, we worked with mainly children to plant the bed whilst chatting with their parents about what we were doing and who Incredible Edible Bristol was. We are shortly going to replant some of the herbs to refresh the bed but its basic make-up will remain the same.