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.
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.