Incredible Edible Dudley

A Growing Collaboration!

As more and more people get involved in projects and learning through CoLab Dudley there will be more and more people sharing stories and insights here on our blog. Below is our first post from Donna Roberts, who will keep us updated on the demonstrator projects she is catalysing though CoLab Dudley. Please do leave a reply (it will make Donna very happy) and let us know if you’d like to guest post or become a regular author here on our blog. 

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We asked people who were passionate about all things growing to join us on Tuesday 3 May for coffee, cake and to chat about urban growing at DY1! It was great to see people who had never met before coming together to make new connections and share resources, ideas, knowledge and passion.

Karl was the first to arrive along with his guide dog Quasia and I was greeted with a big smile, a friendly wag and an arm full of seeds! Karl had already shared a raspberry plant for the garden but now we had carrots, purple broccoli, courgettes and salad! Karl’s wife is the real gardener in the family, but he shared memories of when he was a child spending time with his grandfathers who loved their vegetable patches and how for him having accessible growing spaces felt important and well just made sense!

I have to confess we did start to think big and dream a little! Both myself and Karl love and keep chickens, we talked about the joy karl Raspberrythey bring to our children and that when you collect your eggs in the morning it does really feel like you have been given a gift. Can you imagine DY1 Chickens! It’s a way off but I never say never and they are great slug prevention!

We also talked about wildlife and Karl gave me a great contact called Chris to speak to about wildflowers that attract bees into your garden, It turns out that Janet who came along later is already meeting with him next week and will come back to share what she learns from talking to him.

Now Karl is a man of action, so he cut straight to the point and asked so when do we start planting! The carrots can go straight into the ground (apparently they don’t like to be moved once they are established) I picked up all sorts of tips such as using cling film or plastic bottles with the bottoms cut off to act as a propagator. We also have potatoes that can be started, a raspberry plant to settle in and some salad to get going!

Karl and Quasia will be planting next Tuesday 10 May from 10am for anyone who would like to join them.

ladies growingRuth and Liz along with two  little helpers came along because they had read about Incredible Edible Dudley on the blog and had come along to find out more about it and how they could start urban growing in their own communities. We talked about the effects of air pollution on urban growing and about how urban growing can help reduce food poverty.

They talked about the space and where a potential water butt could connect and the merits of composting and where we could source these items from for free.  The little people just loved being in the open space and took a lot of interest in the tomato plants! Ruth said that it was really nice to see what other people are doing and left with the Incredible Edible book to be inspired by their story and they are all coming back next week to get planting.

Janet from Jasmine Road Community Gardens also came along to see how we could work together. They had already shared some of their bark chippings, gravel and compost with us. I can not wait to visit their space on Thursday to see what hints and tips I can pick up! Again Janet had some really great ideas and shared some contacts of people that may be able to help. What was also amazing was how she signposted Ruth and Liz to growers in their communities and how they swapped details so they could stay in touch.

We talked seed swaps, borough wide plant exchanges, harvest markets, community meals, Dudley Soup and even Trade School! Janet knows a young man who is passionate about building insect and wildlife homes, he is even waiting for Tiggywinkles to come and approve his hedgehog hotel! it feels like an excellent trade school class and addition to our garden.

princes trustLast week when the fantastic Princes Trust gang had been working their magic and enabling all this to happen in a flurry of activity a gentleman had appeared. He lived local and had notice something happening so came to find out more. He asked who was in charge, I said no one, he asked who the growing project was for and I said everyone! He said ah, just like Incredible Edible and I got over excited. Turns out that due to limited mobility Mr Cook can no longer physically partake in his passion which is growing, but Mr Cook is a horticulturist who has been on Gardeners’ World! He has a wealth of stories, idea and advice that we would love him to share so when I didn’t see him on Tuesday I felt a little sad.

A lady came in just before 12pm, it was Mr Cooks daughter-in-law. He was away at his sons so couldn’t make this session but wanted us to know the difference it had made having an opportunity for him to be part of something that he was passionate about within his community. He was quite isolated and the feeling of being of use and having something to offer had meant a lot to him.

I am always left after being involved with a variety of growing projects with the feeling that yes growing food is a wondrous activity that fills my heart with happiness, but what is truly miraculous is seeing people come together as equals, sharing their time, energy, ideas, skills, knowledge, excitement, tools, plants and seeds! The way they chose to come together to share what they are passionate about and how they value the unique gifts they all bring. What fills my soul is that the passion and sharing knows no boundaries, age, background, culture, ability, knowledge, wealth, none of this matters because enthusiasm and a willingness to get involved and have a go alongside respect and acceptance can make truly beautiful things flourish and grow in the most unlikely places.

2 thoughts on “A Growing Collaboration!

  1. Hey this is looking great and set to flourish! I’m interested in how you did the start up conversation with people locally – what was the pitch?
    I’m also intrigued as how you chatted about the benefits of being involved?
    Can you share ideas and experience on that at all?

    1. Hey Simon thanks for getting in touch. We spread the message about what we were doing in lots of different ways. I wrote this blog to hopefully inspire and excite people and also to share the benefits that other people had said community growing had made to them. We shared the blog and the invite people to get involved widely through twitter and this did create some interest and led to people donating seeds and plants and getting involved. Social media also led to people from other growing groups across the borough to get in touch to share ideas and explore how we could work together, which has been really interesting. It has been great to connect people from different groups and organisations together.

      In terms of conversations with local people we produced flyers that we delivered to households, GP surgeries, leisure centres and local shops. The most successful way of starting conversations with local people was by being visible and doing! People got curious seeing stuff happen and experiencing the buzz and flurry of activity. Encouraging them to come say hello and find out what’s happening was really important. This gave us opportunities to make small asks and offers like sharing their experiences or knowledge or if they had any cuttings to offer or to come join us and talk to other passionate growers over coffee and cake!

      The other thing that I think has been really important is to let the genuine passion, enthusiasm and excitement shine through and to share what makes growing so contagious and why growing food to share is important to us. Also never underestimate the power of existing networks and sharing what your doing and the opportunity to get involved through these has also led to people getting involved in different ways.

      I am hoping that once the sunflowers are blooming and the scent of rosemary is in the air and the bean teepee is flourishing that people will become more curious! I will keep you posted on progress, so watch this space!

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