St George Community Garden: connecting with the community through growing food

Liz and Andy from St George Community Garden

Stella Smith from the St George Park Community Garden writes our latest blog post about the work of the garden and how the pandemic has encouraged people to get outside and interested in local parks and growing projects. Liz and Andy are two of the main garden volunteers, pictured above.

The St George Park Community Garden aspires to be of educational use to the community in that it encourages direct conversations concerning the aims of small scale food production in gardens, allotments, containers and community projects.

Outside of the pandemic, the garden is tended by a volunteer group from the local community with sessions twice monthly during the growing season. Although this has not been possible over the last 12 months a core group of volunteers have continued to garden with success and with the support and encouragement of the local community. The physical existence of the garden and its seasonal cycle of crops also encourages curiosity and conversation among park users and the local community, and is an encouragement to the local community to have a go and “grow your own.” 

The community garden grows and provides fresh vegetables and fruit for the local community to sample when ready to harvest. The garden has a commitment to using organic gardening methods with no pesticides or chemicals allowed in the garden area. The garden also has a commitment to supporting pollinating insects and biodiversity, including subsoil vertebrates and invertebrates important for soil health and tasty produce!

The community garden in St George Park is located on the raised area which was originally the site of a Victorian bandstand. After years of neglect, in 2012 a community garden comprising of four raised beds with a central bed was constructed by some of the members of the community group, Friends of St George Park. The group fundraised for the resources to construct the garden which they did themselves with permission from Bristol City Council.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a dark time for the UK, but it has encouraged those who could to get outside. The result of this locally has been a huge interest both in the park and its projects particularly the community garden with what seemed a continual gardening conversation going on during the growing months. The community garden was a success even in non-gardening eyes as everyone seemed to have either some question or comment to make, and even lent a hand with the difficulties we experienced with watering over the hot, dry summer.

Volunteers at St George Park Community Garden are hoping to build on and develop this interest from the community this year, with younger neighbours hoping to get involved with food production both in the community garden and with other small sites in and around the park that the council have made available for horticulture. Let’s hope we can get St George blooming and producing a bumper harvest!  

If you would like to get involved, you can get in touch via the Friends of St George Park website.

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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