Supporting communities to create and grow successful community led gardens is at the core of everything we do, and we are often asked what we do and how we do it, and there’s an expectation that it’s all about the growing, when in fact what’s vital is community led consultation, the ongoing sustainability of the project and a garden’s ability to heal communities but also to divide them if the entire community is not engaged.
This course takes the participant through that process, working with us and with the group at the workshop, to look at how we have found this vital, but also at some examples of what happens if this process is missed out.
This is very much a workshop about community and not a gardening workshop!
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch. This course will be repeated later in the year.
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us as we continue to grow food and beauty in the gardens in Millennium Square. The food we grow here is available to all as a gift to the community, from the community, so we welcome you to join us!!
If you’d like to come along we just ask that you email us at email@example.com and we’ll get back to you to confirm your place!
Our Cultivation Place is at Speedwell Allotments and is our main teaching area. This work party will be focused on a new space we have taken on and will include lots of digging out weeds and generally sorting out and clearing the space!!
If you’d like to join us please return the below form to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will confirm your place!
Join us as we continue to grow food available to all in Millennium Square. From weeding, to planting, sowing and drinking tea, our focus is on ensuring there is a plentiful and abundant supply of fresh vegetables and fruit in the gardens for as much of the year as is possible, and the more hands on deck, the better. You don’t need to bring anything other than yourself, water and sunscreen. We’ll bring tools, expertise and anything else needed!!
If you’d like to join us please email us at email@example.com and send us this form filled in with your details, and we’ll get back to you to confirm your space.