Urban Edible Gardens - Annecy in Cheltenham UK
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
When I lived near to Cheltenham (Gloucestershire) I joined in with weekly gardening sessions in Annecy Park, a public garden owned by the local authority that supported a group people from the Transition Town Food and Growing Group who held monthly bring-and-share-a-meal meetings where bringing the ideas of sustainable food to the attention of the public was a regular topic of discussion.
At that time most of the Cheltenham group members were already committed organic growers at home or on an allotment and one of the group, Malcolm Allison had also been enthused with ideas about community gardening, horticulture and agriculture because of discussions with an Agroecology group in the House of Commons in London. One evening early in 2012, after six months of getting together they came up with the idea of approaching the local town council to ask if there was any suitable space for edible growing in one of the public parks. Lorraine Du Feu another group member and landscape designer duly wrote to the Parks Department within the Borough council. At the time they did not have any great expectations but were delighted when they were offered Annecy Gardens where the council had previously experimented with some traditional vegetable growing, an initiative that had been popular but had been discontinued through lack of funds.
Happily the parks department were helpful; they donated 2 areas of lawn at the entrance to Sandford Park known as Annecy Gardens, just off the High street in the town. Beds in the lawn were prepared and passed on to the volunteers in the Transition group. After a successful season the Parks Department cleared an additional area of shrubbery which gave them further bedding space, they provided a composting area and space for fruit bushes, their edible garden community project was going to thrive.
We planted wild flowers, companion plants and green manure such as Phacelia tanacetifolia commonly known as fiddleneck which the pollinating insects also loved.
I wrote this project for an inspiring Civic Ecology course from Cornell University given by Dr Marianne Krasny and Keith Tidball: https://civicecology.org/
For more information my Annecy study was published in this book with many other inspiring projects:
For other uplifting civic ecology projects, some in the most difficult situations: