Get involved in Bristol’s Get Growing Garden Trail this weekend, 18-19 September!

Bristol’s Get Growing Garden Trail is back after the 2020 event was cancelled – this time for a harvest-themed event. More than 20 fruit and vegetable gardens open their doors to the public. From apple juice-making to garden tours to nature trails – dozens of free family-friendly activities are on offer. Hear from the Bristol Food Network team about what’s planned.

Now in its ninth year, Bristol Food Network’s Get Growing Trail returns for a harvest-themed weekend with Bristol’s fruit and vegetable gardens throwing open their gates on 18-19 September. The Trail offers the perfect opportunity for families and friends to explore community allotments, orchards, smallholdings, mini-market gardens, city farms and productive parks in a safe way.

Growing has improved many aspects of mental and physical health for the city’s citizens during the pandemic and helped us feel more peaceful and content and often better in the moment. Jeff from Bridge Farm says: “Some of us have got really green fingers, some of us less so, but we’re all learning all the time from each other. The sense of well-being and self-empowerment you get from growing food, you cannot beat it!” Bridge Farm is a new addition to the Get Growing Trail.

As in previous years, gardens on the Trail will be highlighting their nature-friendly growing methods and approaches with a wealth of tips, ideas and insights for visitors to take back and share at their own plot, garden or even window box. All in a bid to support and encourage more nature-friendly growing in the city.

June is when the city’s community growing spaces have previously opened for the Get Growing Trail. With the event cancelled in June 2020 and with the situation still unclear for the usual June 2021 Trail, Bristol Food Network instead hosted a digital version of the Trail in June, showcasing some of the amazing growing sites around the city digitally. Groups sent in ‘homemade’ short videos which BFN stitched together into this short film:

With COVID-19 lockdowns restricting peoples’ movements, gyms closing and indoor socialising spaces limited, spending time in the garden, park or allotment has been an important way for Bristol’s citizens to keep mentally and physically healthy during the pandemic. Many groups will be welcoming visitors to their sites for the first time since the pandemic began – an opportunity to connect with each other through nature while continuing to be safe.

The lockdowns prompted a lot of people to Get Growing for the first time, and this has inevitably had a knock-on effect in the increasing numbers on allotment waiting lists. Getting involved in community growing offers people another way to Get Growing – and to learn amongst others in a supportive, friendly environment.

As well as garden tours, this year’s September Trail includes seed sowing, fun games for kids, apple juice-making, the opportunity to pick up some new plants and fresh produce, delicious lunch and snack stops, wildlife-friendly gardening tips, and Bristol’s first fully wheelchair-accessible dementia-friendly allotment.

Elm Tree Farm (photo by Lucie Laborde Briulet).

Full details of all 22 garden openings can be found at www.bristolfoodnetwork.org and Trail maps are available across the city, or view the PDF here.

All openings are subject to current government Covid-19 restrictions. Please check the Bristol Food Network website for any updates.

Trail highlights for 2021:

  • Bristol’s first fully wheelchair-accessible dementia-friendly allotment (Alive at Brentry) will be open on Sunday 19 September, 12 noon–4pm.
  • Bridge Farm in Bell Hill, BS16, is another new addition and will be open both days over the Get Growing Trail weekend for visits and volunteering.
  • Hazelnut Community Farm in Horfield is open Saturday 18 September, 10am-4pm and Sunday 19 September 10am-1pm. There will be creative nature crafts and tours of the site.
  • Baggator at The Pickle Factory (13 All Hallows Road) will be open Saturday 18 September 1-4pm and Sunday 19 September, 4-7pm.
  • Another new addition to the Trail, Long Ashton Growers, will be open both days, 11am-4pm.
  • Royate Hill Community Orchard and Allotment will be hosting a communal apple-pressing event. From collecting the apples, to squishing and pressing, and composting what’s left, this is permaculture in action with no waste!

By setting the wheels in motion now, together we can transform the future of food in our city, building in resilience over the next decade. So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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