On 21st September 2013, over 160 of the UK’s community food-growing gardens will be throwing open their gates to the public in the largest open event of food-growing spaces in the UK. The open day builds on the huge success of last year’s event which attracted more than 3,000 people. The aim of the day is to raise awareness about the variety of community gardens and encourage more people to get involved
The Edible Gardens Open Day is part of The Big Dig, a project funded by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund and coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.
The event is being supported by celebrity gardener Alys Fowler who said: “The Big Dig’s Edible Gardens Open Day is a wonderful opportunity to get out and see some lovely community spaces, taste fresh local produce and meet more people who like to grow and eat food.”
This year 20 towns and cities will be involved, a whopping increase on last year’s six cities. Amongst the gardens taking part are community orchards and allotments, gardens on roof tops, on barges, on housing estates and in parks. Many of the gardens will be putting on activities such as garden tours, talks, and games for children as well as giving visitors the chance to take part in harvesting, cooking and eating the food grown on the sites.
One of the participating gardens is Moss Side Community allotment garden in Manchester. The project only started in March 2012 when a group of volunteers got together to transform an abandoned allotment plot in the middle of Moss Side’s housing estates. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, taking on more land to meet local people’s demand for more produce and more variety. They took part in Edible Gardens Day last year when over 50 people turned up to enjoy the barbeque and curried goat. People also got involved in food related games and activities, including guessing the weight of various giant vegetables grown on the site.
Phil Dodd from the group said: “ Edible Gardens Open Day really helped to raise our profile and a number of people who came on the day have now become regular volunteers.”
Clare Horrell from The Big Dig, added: “We are delighted to have so many more towns and cities taking part in Edible Gardens Open Day this year. We want people to come and visit, taste what is growing and be inspired to get involved so that growing food becomes part of every community.”
Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society said: “The Social Action Fund is designed to help bring people together through innovative projects that can make a real difference in local communities. The Big Dig is doing just that - helping community groups to transform unused spaces in towns and cities for everyone to share and enjoy. Their ‘Edible Gardens Open Day’ is a great showcase of the inspiring work done across the country and I hope as many people as possible get involved this year.”
Most events will take place on Saturday, 21st September but there will also be activities throughout the week of 14th-22nd. Details of the gardens taking part can be found on The Big Dig website at www.bigdig.org.uk.
The Big Dig is is a nationwide project which aims to engage over 10,000 people in community food-growing projects across England. The project involves organisations in 20 towns and cities. As part of the initiative, the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens is providing advice to community groups on land issues as well as organising training sessions.
Follow The Big Dig on twitter @thebigdiguk, or visit our website www.bigdig.org.uk
Gardens in 20 towns and cities taking part in Edible Gardens Open Day are Birmingham, Blackpool, Brighton & Hove, Bournemouth, Congleton, Coventry, Falkirk, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Southend, Swindon, Totnes, Walsall
The Social Action Fund is managed by The Social Investment Business, on behalf of the Cabinet Office. The Fund supports social action projects in England from civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses with a track record of delivering social action programmes. The Social Action Fund is part of a broader programme of support for social action that was announced in the Giving White Paper and takes its place alongside two other funding streams - Innovation in Giving Fund and Challenge Prizes.
Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. http://www.sustainweb.org/
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