The urban environment is full of edges, between areas, buildings, and also between people. Each edge has its own unique potential for transformation. ‘Veg on the Edge’ @ Dame Emily Park Project is a partnership between Blaise Plant Nursery, The Art of Kindness (Julian Wood) and BS3 Community. Rachel Brown shares the aims of the project – find out how you can get involved.
During the March 2020 lockdown I witnessed the upsurge of people growing edible food at home. As I ventured out for my daily walks around the local area I would imagine what it would be like if each edge was covered in edible food. Beans entangled through fences and courgettes basking in the sun on yellow lines in the roads. I wondered, what if growing food to share in a community became normal? What would have to happen for this to become reality?
I decided to start exploring these questions with the wonderful volunteers at Bedminster’s Dame Emily Park Project (DEPP). Together we have designed and developed ‘Veg on the Edge’ at DEPP.
‘Veg on the Edge’
‘Veg on the Edge’ is an edible community container growing project. Our local and wider community around Dame Emily Park have been invited to grow an edible plant in a container at home and then bring it to the community garden between 15th and 28th May 2021 for a ‘container installation’ along the edges of the existing raised beds.
Our vision is to enable people to grow food together, even while navigating national lockdowns. We want to support people to develop confidence and skills in edible gardening and nurture the process, the enjoyment and connection, as well as the outcome. We see creating a close relationship between people and the food they eat as a key pathway to more sustainable food choices and resilient communities.
In ecology we know that the edges between environments are generally more productive and richer in the variety of species present than either habitat on its own. Dame Emily Park sits on the boundary between two areas with markedly different levels of financial resource, deprivation and food security, and with a rich diversity of park users. We see this as an opportunity and wanted to work with these social and physical edges, using edible gardening to cultivate both food and relationships.
‘Veg on the Edge’ @ Dame Emily Park Project is a partnership project between Blaise Plant Nursery, who have provided free edible plants, The Art of Kindness (Julian Wood) who has provided his well-loved kindness flags and BS3 Community who are supporting our commitment that 50% of all the food harvested will reach people experiencing food insecurity through their larder and FOOD Clubs.
Who knows what will emerge from our collective growing? If the momentum of ‘Veg on the Edge’ continues we would like to start actively involving people experiencing food insecurity in the growing of plants. We are also interested in combining edible containers with art and murals that promote messages of hope and connection. If you would like to take part in growing a plant at home for a container or support our future aspirations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dame Emily Park Project (DEPP) volunteers have been serving the park since 1997 and in 2015 the current group started a Community Garden Group who meet monthly to maintain a corner plot of the park. With initial funding from Quartet Community Foundation and assistance from Incredible Edible Bristol, GoodGym and local residents, we have made this space a place for growing edible fruit and vegetables. We have also been working with various organisations to provide bug hotels, improved planting, bird and bat houses, information signage about nature in the park and adopted three hedgehogs who are now residents in the community garden!
We have raised funds to employ Yvette McLoughlin who is a qualified primary school teacher and experienced forest school leader to run weekly forest school sessions from March to November, which are available freely for children who are 2-4 years old during term-time and up to eight years old during the summer holidays.
Our aim is to enable children and parents to learn about green issues, sustainability, education in nature and the importance of looking after our green spaces so that they are preserved and maintained for future generations. We feel that the park is a vibrant hub of the surrounding community and this way of being active is great for improving the well-being of all who use it. The families who gather at these sessions can socialise and relax together, which can also stave off feelings of loneliness and depression.
We feel it is important to make space and time in our busy lives to let our creativity run wild. No matter how small, transforming a space can make you feel immensely proud of your achievements. It can boost self-esteem by learning new skills which will include design, DIY, team management and communication. This group will bring people together from different generations and backgrounds.
To find out more about the park please have a look at our website www.dameemilypark.com or our Facebook page and read more stories about Bristol growers on this blog.
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.