Sunday, 4 June 2017

#mygardenrightnow-actually #ourgardenrightnow.....

I have posted before about the garden I am supporting in Bristol in the Bearpit, a sunken roundabout often berated in the city for the community that meets there. Over the last few years lots of people have been working to create a safer, more inclusive space in the Bearpit and as you will probably know I, with Incredible Edible Bristol Community Gardeners, have been supporting the design and making of a community garden in the space.

Now I am not even going to pretend that this has been, to some, contentious. Accusations of waste of public money, assumptions about it being vandalised and disbelief that there is room for anything edible in the space have all been thrown at us but we have just carried on. We made a beautiful path in the hottest week of 2016, we have planted trees so that now it is an official orchard, we have planted herbs that we know people are using and in the last month the artichokes have done their thing and we have had photo after photo of people's meals that they have featured in.
On our return from RHS Malvern most of the plants from the gardens have gone into the gardens and today it is full of colour. We have weeded out some rogues but the poppies and daisies are staying because they look lovely. The bees have found it and are moving around the plants as they flower, from the alliums to the comfrey and now the poppies and thyme.

Work parties are a plenty in the space at the moment, catching up after the Malvern break, and it's great to see different folk come along and really get involved in the space, often telling us that it has always been a space they would avoid until recently. Not only are we supporting the making of a garden here, but the bringing together of a community of people who are becoming as passionate about the space as I am.

The garden is also beginning to look after itself. We have composting set up and working and work areas where we can propagate our own plants to fill not just the Bearpit garden but also it's containers and the other 39 gardens we support across the city. We have had extraordinary groups of people come along and help, from the horticulture team at Bristol Uni to groups of Brownies and Guides. As a space many who were afraid of it are becoming engaged with it, seeing that they too can be a part of the change that the city needs. Who says public realm space needs to be full of sad plants that are pruned once a year when in actual fact, knowing that gardening is good for you, lots of people are beginning to see the power in engaging with groups that support communities to find their voices and make the change they want to see. After all, if I can do it, so can anyone.

I consider myself the luckiest person. Not only am I working with all these incredible people in these lost spaces to bring beauty and productivity to the city of Bristol, but I get to design and implement gardens that are not only beautiful, but that are making change in people's lives. That are giving people their own voices and helping them to create their own change. And along the way we are teaching people the skills of gardening.
When I first moved to Bristol I was bullied horrifically by someone who should have known better. Being told every day that you know nothing, aren't interested in plants, or gardens, that you are hopeless and in the wrong career, is hard but I have realised in the last few weeks that I found my voice during that time. I will always be weirdly thankful for that experience that pushed me into the role I am in now. If through kindness and courage I can help to support more people to be able to garden, to grow food even if they have no space, to find their voices and affect their own communities positively, then I consider myself rich beyond words despite doing the vast majority of this voluntarily.
The above photo was taken by one of our volunteers who is 4!! And this was part of the crew in the Bearpit garden a couple of weeks ago, all smiling and having a great time. All learning new skills and meeting new people. All being completely incredible!


  1. It's really a fantastic thing and a testament to how people can come together :)

  2. Amazing to see the transformation in what was pretty much a no-go area. I don't think mums would have willingly taken their little ones there a couple of years ago, and now there they are smiling away :)

    1. We had a group of Brownies there a few weeks ago with some very worried looking parents, all of whom admitted that they actually hadn't been in the space for years and were shocked at the transformation!!

  3. We love you Sara! You're such an inspiration and a positive light to the Bearpit! xx team Bearpit