Our How To Grow course is 4 weeks, on concurrent Saturday mornings, of learning the building blocks of successful and ecologically sound gardening and growing.
We start with the most important block of all, soil, and then lead onto growing from seed, composting, basic propagation and how to grow and be pesticide free.
This course is for beginners and people who want to have more confidence in the garden, or just more about growing in tune with nature. Don’t hesitate to email us with any questions.
It will run concurrently throughout the year. there are two places per course that are free to marginalised groups and people who otherwise are unable to access the course. These places are aimed at BAME, LQBTQ+ and young people aged 16-24. If you’re not sure if you qualify please do get in touch.
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……
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and send us this form filled in with your details, and we’ll get back to you to confirm your space.
Since the first lockdown our focus has been to grow as much food as possible across the city and to ensure that food gets to people who need it due to the pandemic and the inequalities across the city. Our focus has very much been on our learning site in Speedwell where we have not just grown lots of crops but also continued to prepare it for courses and workshops once we can reopen safely which will be soon.
All work parties at this space are focused on best ecological food growing practices and there will be a different focus each week. This week’s focus is the tidying of our pond area and planting of native pond plants to encourage more biodiversity on site.
If you would like to join us please return the form below and we will let you know if you have a place!
For some time Covid stopped regular work parties in the 5 gardens in Millennium Square but now we are back there 3 times a month, and are able to offer spaces out to folk to get involved. Obviously things are still somewhat different to pre cover times and we are asking anyone who would like to attend to fill in the form below and send it to email@example.com and we will get back to you to let you know that you are on the list. There are limited spaces in order to ensure everyone’s safety so it will be first come, first served, but we hope to be able to offer more places soon.
All Millennium Square work parties involve some maintenance of the space, with weeding and clearing quite a large part of each work party, but we will also focus hard on getting lots of delicious veg back into the beds , which is, of course, available to anyone to use. Each work party is facilitated by one of our incredible facilitators who will be able to talk you through the jobs being done, will have tools and everything you might need to get involved. We do, however, ask that you bring your own gloves and hand sanitiser.