Cherry tree blossom petals blew through and settled on the carpet of Health for All’s Holbeck Youth and Community Centre last Saturday (26th April 2014). The open door was to welcome residents to their community consultation day on whether there should be an edible garden in Holbeck, inside the games area next the centre on Old Elland Road in Holbeck.
Due to limited use of the outside games site and being in need of repair, Health for All is looking towards a more wider and inclusive purpose for the site.
Stephanie Robinson from Health for All presented colourful pieces of information on display boards about the exciting possibilities of what growing your own vegetables means for everyone in the community. Health for All would really like to see this space utilised to its full potential with a hope to bring residents together and build on something positive.
Health for All invited Paul Long from the non profit organisation Kirkstall Garden (kirkstallgarden.btck.co.uk) for tips and advice on the subject. Paul advocates community gardens from the success of the one in Kirkstall through residents building their own raised beds, expanding food choices and sharing food. His passion shines through as he says his inspiration came from his four year old daughter;
“It was like magic for her to see her planting a seed watching it grow, producing food and eating it. Also, just understanding the source of a vegetable in that it didn’t come from the shop.”
Having a community garden would help increase the awareness of sourcing good food and promote healthy living to people who aren’t lucky enough to live nearby shops selling a variety of fresh food.
Paul has seen how this healthy engagement has helped his community so far. Already it is providing volunteering and learning opportunities helping build new skills for people. It has the potential to involve the local schools, also be a chance to share growing ideas between cultures and culinary choices. Not only this but it’s a place for people to get together, relax and enjoy the garden.
Paul continued to say that Kirkstall and Holbeck share a similar urban landscape, in that there is a lot of built up residential areas; back to back’s and high rises. He explained how you can plant vertical growing baskets out of reused bottles, and different planting techniques in limited spaces such as the potato bucket! I didn’t know that the leaves off carrot tops can serve in a salad, and if you put the bottom of a celery in water, it’s grows another celery!
There is already a growing interest in community gardens in the media, with the success of Incredible Edible in Todmodern. The Real Junk Food Project in Armley, another non profit organisation which serves unused fruit and veg from supermarkets in their ‘pay as you feel’ cafe. Also, let’s not forget our very own Slung Low Theatre Company they’re sporting their own mobile orchard in bath tubs in ‘The Hub’ under the viaduct in Holbeck.
Stephanie continues to consult on whether there should be an edible community garden in Holbeck and is looking for more people to get in touch with her on the subject. Her contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org following this she hopes to present the results at the St. Matthew’s Community Centre some time in the future.
Watch this (growing) space!