Edible Open Gardens weekend
The UK can happily boast an eclectic mix of such spaces, including Sheffield’s Growing Streets project, which aims to turn the residents’ of one street’s gardens into micro-allotments for their own fruit and vegetables. London’s open 50 gardens included the Dalston Eastern Curve garden, created on a disused railway line, and a floating allotment on a canal barge, which keeps bees, food growing and laying ducks. Co-ordinated by The Big Dig on 14-16 September, the cities taking part were Brighton & Hove, led by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership; Coventry, led by Garden Organic; London, led by Capital Growth; Manchester, led by The Kindling Trust; Middlesbrough, led by Middlesbrough Environment City and Sheffield, led by Grow Sheffield.
Down at Capital Growth’s flagship allotment in London’s Regent’s Park, Volunteer Co-Ordinator Julie Riel said the site was formerly the grounds for a police station. An initiative to get allotments back into royal parks led to Capital Growth setting up site in one of the city’s most pristine green areas.
“Food growing is now so popular in England for many reasons,” she says. “But most importantly, it has become a cultural thing, it’s something people enjoy doing. But food prices are going up and the quality isn’t so good. People are starting to realise the way they consume their food, grow it, and care about it.”
This particular project doesn’t sell its produce, but rather grows it as a learning tool for events and courses. Volunteers also take the produce home, and excessive crop like courgettes and pumpkins is given to a local cookery school.
Most importantly though, is the organisation’s aim to implement 2,012 growing spaces in the area by the end of this year. “So far we have around 1,875,” says Julie. “We provide these open days, networking events and training sessions for people to learn how to grow. The idea of the 2,012 growing spaces is to make them sustainable. In 2013, going forward, we want to promote volunteering through food growing. It will keep supporting that network that exists now, and provide as much help as we can.”
The Big Dig’s next major event is a volunteering event in March 2013, giving people one day to get their hands dirty in their local community growing projects.
Did you make it to any of the open gardens? Did it inspire you to volunteer or start your own micro-allotment?