Propagation Place: A vibrant community business supporting the local food system

Growers at Propagation Place

Celia Briseid gives us an update about what’s happening this season at Propagation Place, the social venture that’s part of St Werburghs City Farm. The urban food growing project has just launched an apprentice scheme and a new online course is about to start. The course will be designed to inspire people wherever they are in the country to get growing.

It was July 2021 and a warm, sunny day. I was new to Bristol and unemployed at the time when I was exploring the city with a new friend. We wandered through Easton and ended up discovering St Werburghs City Farm. What a green oasis to find in the middle of the city! I said to my friend “I’d love to work here!”. Fast forward four months and there I was, employed as maternity cover for the Propagation Place Manager.

I quickly realised that St Werburghs City Farm has a very special place in the community, and that it means so much to so many. Not only to the people who visit and engage with it, but also to all the staff working there. No wonder, as the farm has existed as a green hub in the heart of Bristol for over 40 years bringing people together to share a space where they can learn about the story of food and connect with nature.

Having lived in London and managed an urban food growing project for young people for the last five years, I come with a strong belief that when we put food at the heart, we can produce (literally and figuratively) and achieve great things! Today, the functions and goals of urban food growing are many and varied. In fact, the list is rather impressive – it works as an educational tool and community builder, develops employability skills, bolsters youth development, increases food literacy, strengthens citizen engagement, fosters wider environmental activism, and enhances physical and mental health. I am incredibly grateful to be able to be part of and continue doing this work at the farm with Propagation Place.

As a community business, our work is supported through the sales of vegetable plug plants sold online and locally. When you buy plug plants from us, your purchase will directly enable us to continue supporting our community by providing opportunities to people living in an urban environment so that they can experience peaceful and restorative time in nature, access education and become part of a community, thus removing barriers to social inclusion and employment.

It’s been an exciting year so far, and after two years of development we have finally been able to launch our apprenticeship scheme and have recruited two apprentices who will work with us whilst earning a qualification in horticulture. This apprenticeship scheme will allow us to further engage and support those in our community who wish to explore a career in food and farming. The farm provides an amazing opportunity for people living in central Bristol to take their first steps on a path that could lead them into a career in farming and horticulture, whilst gaining transferable skills and experience through working in a community business such as Propagation Place. This is our first year running this scheme, and the goal is to secure enough funds to be able to offer this opportunity year on year.

Soon we will also launch an online course, ‘Vegetable gardening for beginners’. We are extremely excited to offer this course, and hope that we can inspire people up and down the country to give vegetable growing a go. Whether you have garden, a balcony or just a windowsill, everyone can grow food at home! The course material will be a mix of videos, activities, and written information and is due to be ready this spring, so watch this space.

Read about St Werburghs City Farm’s Equity Report on this blog. Rhian Grant, co-author of the report, writes about the formation of the project and the actions that the farm is taking to mitigate and remove barriers to access.

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 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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