Annual Report from Incredible Edible Swindon

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It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since the last AGM. 2015/16 saw flurries of activity over a number of projects, focusing mainly around the Central Community Centre / Railway Village and in West Swindon.

We continued our collaboration with the Mechanics Institution Trust and also branched out into working with new people, groups and organisations.

We took part in our second Eco-Fest recently and look forward to meeting yet more members of the wider Swindon community when we attend our third Apple Day, hosted by our friends The Secret Garden and the Swindon Climate Action Network on the 1st of October. (Update – the downpour on the day meant a quick reschedule to Sun 2nd which fortunately had fab weather).

We received a multitude of generous donations of time, help and materials. We also improved our website to keep in touch with all our friends and prospective Incredible Edibles out there via social media.

Moving onto this year’s projects  …

The Central Community Centre (CCC)

Sunflowers at the Central Community Centre - image by Kathryn
Sunflowers at the Central Community Centre – image by Kathryn

The gardens at the CCC have been completely transformed this year. The construction of the raised beds was mostly completed in the summer of 2015 and in the autumn we organised work parties to fill them with compost and lay bark chippings between the beds.

In spring of this year the work parties started up again, to complete the same tasks for the herb garden and to clear the laurel hedge from the corner bed and sow and plant the beds with a range of flowers, veg and herbs. The building skills, hard labour plus various plants were very generously donated by the community, to whom we are very grateful!

At the end of July we started up weekly work parties as a means of staying on top of the regular maintenance and to have a regular, visible presence at the beds to encourage new helpers along.

Among the highlights at the CCC this year have been the 10′ high sunflowers, which have been commented on and enjoyed by so many, and much of the veg which people have been picking and taking home for free. Our involvement here has also had the benefit of giving us a visible presence in the village which was key in starting conversations with residents about the 3 Sisters Project.

The challenges that lie with this project continue to be attracting residents to help look after and manage the beds. We hope that by continuing to hold regular work parties during the growing season and building relationships with residents through other projects such as the 3 Sisters, we will eventually attract enough people interested in the long term care of the beds.

Our very many thanks to all of the fantastic people who have come along and helped out at the work parties this year, and also to the Mechanic’s Institution Trust for being such fantastic partners in this project.

The Three Sisters

Grow bags delivered
Grow bags delivered

This project was a success on so many levels. You can read all about this elsewhere on the website. 28 residents grew 3 types of vegetables (the three sisters) in 30 growbags on their doorsteps across the Railway Village. All provided free via a REFRESH grant from Swindon Borough Council.

We met up with residents again at a recent barbeque and folk are very keen to grow again next year with more participants asking to join in.

West Swindon

Working on the big planter in Woollaton Close
Working on the big planter in Woollaton Close

This year has seen Incredible Edible activity at three sites in West Swindon. The largest of these is Toothill Farmhouse where we also secured a £500 grant and volunteers to help with clearing, planting and replacement of fences and gates around the garden. This site lacks an obvious community but the children who attend the Youth Club have got involved. A pre-school has now moved in and we hope to get them involved too.

Of the other two sites, one is also in Toothill and the other in Grange Park. They involve planters that were already available in car parks in the area. Residents have joined in and created edible vegetable beds that have produced a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers over the spring and summer. We visit once a month to bring locals together and help identify plants from weeds and jobs to be done throughout the gardening calendar. There were no funds available for these sites and instead we’ve relied on the generosity of others – local and not so local – to provide plants, manure and soil.

And the future?

As we head into winter, we’re developing ideas for other ways to bring gardening and food closer to the community, so please do watch this space!

Donations & Thank yous

A big thanks to everyone that has helped and donated to Incredible Edible Swindon. We couldn’t do these projects without you nor make them the successes they became.

Below is a list of those that have donated to us over the last year. Huge apologies to anyone we’ve missed.

Plants:

  • Talis Kimberley
  • Bet Grady
  • Jo Beach
  • Luke Howard
  • Justin Jessen

Plus we’ve had many more people that have handed over packets of seeds over the year.

Pots:

  • Bet Grady
  • Anne Wiggans
  • Zoë Keeton

Manure:

  • Justin Jensen

Strimmer:

  • Ann Wiggans

Also big thanks to business and staff at:

  • Crapper & Sons
  • Hills Group,
  • Argyle Garden Centre
  • Innogy Renewables UK Ltd
  • Nationwide
  • Greatfield Nurseries & Garden Centre
  • Manor Garden Centre
  • Swindon Borough Council
  • Mechanics Institution Trust
  • Toothill Farm Community Centre
  • Central Community Centre

Plus those that have used their building skills to help build beds and repair fences etc: Alan Priday & Ed at the Central Community Centre and Stu Clarke at West Swindon.

Summing up

Thanks to all for another great year!
From the team at Incredible Edible Swindon

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