Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th September 2013 saw the second Incredible Edible Somerset Open Gardens weekend. More than 22 workshops took place involving over 190 people across every district of Somerset, while over 21 sites were open to the public to inspire others to get growing.
In Minehead, Transition Minehead & Alcombe helped organise an entire day on getting the best from your plot, with workshops on extending the growing seasons, seasonal sowing & winter protection, as well as a shared lunch and cooking session in the afternoon looking at what to do with your glorious glut. More than 15 people made it along.
Organiser of Burnham on Sea Food & Drink Festivals Sarah Milner-Simmonds lead a free garden design workshop on how to use edible ornamentals to make your garden more productive, with many keen participants.
In Frome, Aliss led a willow weaving demonstration and the Mount Community Garden led a storing and preserving vegetables workshop. Unfortunately due to the howling weather not many people made it and the organisers have decided next year to run a how to pickle your mother-in-law workshop that may be more popular.
Amanda Clay from Bishop’s Palace Communty Garden led an introduction to vegetable growing skill share at South Petherton Allotments and Axbridge Community Allotment had a successful open day and bug hunt happening for kids.
On Sunday a small group made it to Street to see Mark and Sarah’s amazing home garden, with its creative recycling and growing practices that make the most of the space.
Master Gardener Michele Darnell Roberts led a Super Simple Soups workshop at Crispin Community Centre in Street with more than 17 people taking part.
Also open to the public were Dragon Willows Farm near Godney, a traditional Somerset levels smallholding. A council house garden on Windmill Hill in Glastonbury was also open to the public to help inspire other householders with how to make the most of their space to grow food for their families. Jane Walker from Crew HQ led a food resilience workshop and showed people around her garden in Coxley.
Louise Brookes also led a perpetual edible garden workshop, with nine people taking part, showing how a community garden can be created on neglected wasteland.
Meanwhile in South Somerset, two permaculture workshops took place led by Peter Clark. Over 15 attended a workshop in South Petherton, as well as six at Somerton Allotments. They were all inspired by this design system and how they can re-design their spaces to save time, energy and money and enhance biodiversity.
Nicole Vosper also led a workshop on Medicinal Landscaping in Compton Dundon, showing visitors around her 30m2 herb garden and introducing them to diverse medicinal habitats on the four acre smallholding where she lives. To see some resources from the workshop, click here.
Axbridge Community Allotment also gave their own introduction to forest gardening workshop with a tour of their forest garden on their second shared allotment site.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend, which would have not been possible without the grassroots support of people leading workshops for free, advertising events and getting their hands dirty on the day. The weekend is a great chance to get people involved in your community project and inspired by food growing.
If you would like to take part in the Incredible Edible Somerset Open Gardens 2014 please email email@example.com
Participants at the Perpetual Edible Gardens Workshop
Bridies Yard Forever Food Forest
Super Simple Soups Workshop
Pictures from Mark & Sarah’s edible back garden
Some produce from Axbridge Community Allotment:
Pictures from West Somerset:
Medicinal Landscaping workshop:
As part of the LAND project, launched by the Permaculture Association a little over two years ago, more than 7,000 visitors and 4,000 volunteers have been supported in learning from and taking part in established permaculture projects.
A network of publicly accessible LAND learning centres around England continues to grow, and now at its halfway point, the success of the 4-year scheme is being celebrated.
There are currently 27 learning centres with another 15 to be formalised this spring as well as a further 13 in an earlier stage of establishment. The LAND centres are becoming the beating hearts of the permaculture network, offering a chance for people to taste the produce, see the landscape and start to understand the principles and design logic behind the projects.
Across England, from southern Cornwall to North Yorkshire, each centre is unique and as such, offers different skills and knowledge to visitors, be it woodland management, mushroom cultivation, wild food harvesting or salad growing. Projects vary from permaculture home gardens and inner-city forest gardens to community and public spaces, allotments, smallholdings and broad-scale organic farms.
Funded by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme, the LAND project offers financial and practical support to schools and food growing or community groups in carrying out visits. Senior citizens, high school students and village gardening clubs are all seizing the opportunity, say the Permaculture Association.
The projects are also supported as hosts for events and benefit from an increased web presence and promotion, as well as advice from experienced practitioners. Becoming a recognised centre can also help with challenges such as planning permission and fundraising.
By increasing the visibility of permaculture, the LAND Project is helping to increase support for the Permaculture Association as the work becomes more widely recognised as viable and desirable. Long term, the organisation hopes to extend funding to cover both Wales and Scotland.
“The LAND network is going from strength to strength,” says project co-ordinator, Louise Cartright. “People are really starting to see it in action themselves.”