Finding out about your local community can not only be truly inspirational but also incredibly eye-opening. After speaking to Sara Venn, lead on project and co-founder of Incredible Edible Bristol, I am constantly on the look out for their tasty, nutritious beds and the happy communities that the free plants leave in their wake.
With many allotments in Bristol at risk, sustainable gardeners, without plots of their own, are potentially left in the lurch unable to sow and grow their own organic crops. But after being inspired by the success stories of Incredible Edible in Todmorden in West Yorkshire, the first Incredible Edible creation, and through a Twitter conversation the seeds for an Edible Bristol were sown. The vision was quickly developed to create Bristol as the UK’s first metropolitan edible city. In March 2014 their first meeting accrued more than 100 interested individuals and since then the ball has definitely kept rolling. With a hardworking and dedicated team planting and growing delicious food all over Bristol, many however may not know about all of the healthy and most importantly free goodies.
What’s more is you have probably passed by these free plots without even realising it. From strawberries and lettuces being grown in Millennium Square to artichokes, broad beans and leeks in Castle Park, there are around 30 patches scattered around this edible city filled with vegetables, fruit and herbs. Millennium Square also have beautiful honeycomb beds which provide food for our little bee pollinators. On your way to the Co-Op on Straits Parade, Fishponds have good look at the two large beds and if you’re by Horfield Common head to the end of the bowling greens and peek round Ardagh Community building and see the delicious plot for yourself! You also have some incredible community gardens that have been shown a helping hand and a good amount of TLC in the last year bringing food to unused and unloved green spaces, but also the community together.
With links with the Severnside Community Rail Partnership, you will possibly see edible planters known as The Station Buffets on the lines between Temple Meads and Severn Beach – feeling peckish on your commute; grab a handful of strawberries.
Many Bristol postcode primary, secondary and tertiary schools have embraced their fork and spade and signed up for the Edible Schools programme. Work is ongoing and Incredible Edible Bristol is heading the Urban Growing Trail and working with Grow Bristol and Bee the Change on that project. They are also working on Food Route which is a collaborative project with FareShare SW. The Millennium Square project is at the end of the Urban Growing Trail and is a collaborative project with At Bristol and Almondsbury Garden Centre.
Sara, who is lead on the project, expresses the importance of turning these areas of wasteland into areas of beauty and into areas where food is grown in areas that it hasn’t been before. The cleaned up spaces are given extra nutrients and then planted up with food available to everybody. Edible plants were also seen at this years RHS Chelsea Show, which Sara attended and she observed edible planting “doesn’t seem just for Grandad’s allotment anymore, it is at the forefront”.
There are so many ways that members of the public can get involved with this incredible project. You can start your own project, or if this sounds like too much work you can join one near you. You can water the plants as you walk by and you can also help be donating money, your expertise or your time to create some more Incredible Edible spaces.