Incredible Edible Bristol: Let’s ensure horticulture and ecology support each other as we go for gold

In our latest blog post founder of Incredible Edible Bristol, Sara Venn, shares plans for an exciting new learning zone at Speedwell Allotments. She also talks about her vision for more edible and nature-friendly spaces that are good for people and good for the planet.

For six years Incredible Edible Bristol has been supporting food growing in communities across the city, helping to create trails of gardens, an edible train line, food growing in parks and places deserted by nature, providing a free harvest of food for the community to help themselves to.

We were excited to hear that Bristol would be bidding to be the first gold-standard sustainable food city, and have been active members of the steering group, supporting members of that team in gaining knowledge of the work across the city by Incredible Edible Bristol and all the other extraordinary growing projects that are busy supporting more people to grow. We are very lucky to have community growing spaces all across Bristol, and an amazing community all working to support more food to be grown in communities, on allotments and in peoples’ gardens and homes.

As we move into 2020, with the city declaring both climate and ecological emergencies, we feel it’s more and more important that people feel there is support for them to learn how to tackle these crises, and how with quite small changes they can grow some food, support biodiversity and feel confident that they can do so. With that in mind, this year will see the launch of our learning zone at Speedwell Allotments.

This space will support good horticultural practice through courses and workshops, resourcing communities to create healthy, productive spaces that were previously lost and unloved.  Our work parties continue to be open to all, and are held at least twice a week. Whether you have 10 minutes to spare or a full four hours, dropping in will find you surrounded by like-minded people all of whom are learning more skills and creating more connections across the gardens. All our work parties are advertised on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and on our website.

Our call for action, as well as creating more edible and nature-friendly spaces, is for our city centre to embrace the changes we need to see to make it a truly inclusive space to both human and wild populations. Planting in public spaces should be rich in colour, in nectar and in types of plant, ensuring that there is a rich harvest for invertebrates and birds alongside a harvest for humans. This would be easily achieved through new planting schemes focused on creative design, and good horticultural and permacultural practice.

While we appreciate this will take a new focus, we would ask the relevant authorities and landowners to be brave and embrace the challenge of ensuring horticulture and ecology support each other well across the city. We will ensure we support this in spaces supported by Incredible Edible Bristol.

Sara Venn is founder of Incredible Edible Bristol. She is driven by inspiring and enabling people all over the city to take food production back into their own hands.

You can take action NOW on Urban Growing, one of the six Going for Gold action areas. There are plenty of ideas for individuals – from starting small and growing one thing to taking control of the public space in your neighbourhood. Organisations can also take action on Urban Growing, bringing both physical and mental health benefits to staff.

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