Updated: Horfield community allotment and forest garden

Updated November 2011, written by Ian Baker: “I met Lucy Mitchell, a Community Project Worker, on her patch at the bottom end of the Horfield Allotments, close to Bishop Road Primary School. She is beginning to turn an underused piece of land into a Community Allotment and a Forest Garden Project. The area has been flattened and raised beds and wooden decking is emerging. It will be a little while before the Project is up and running. Then, Volunteers will be needed! Lucy will keep us informed.”

This information has been provided by Clare, who enthused many of us at our recent showing of In Transition. If you’re interested in finding out more then please contact Clare (details below).

Horfield and District Allotment Association is a busy and productive association, which leases three separate sites from Bristol City Council, spread over two or three miles.
The demand for plots is very high, and in recent years in order to respond to this, plots have been decreased in size to allow access to more people. Despite this, there is currently a two-year waiting list for a plot on the Golden Hill site.
There is, however, a piece of previously unused land which we want to turn into a productive growing space for wider community use. This is poor quality waterlogged clay, but with drainage and raised beds, this could be turned into a valuable community resource.
There is already a pond and wildlife area and a composting scheme on this part of the site. And there is a site, about one acre, or five to six large plots, which we would like to develop as a community allotment and forest garden for local food growing.
Our allotment association is run independently from the local authority, with an established committee. We already host the Horfield Organic Community Orchard, another project run by local people for the local community.
Our plans for the site are to develop a community space where local people can learn about growing food, about taking part in healthy outside activity, engage in horticultural therapy and learn new skills. The allotment will act as a demonstration garden, showing people what they can grow at different times of year in a small space.
We are particularly keen to create an inclusive and accessible site where people with mental and physical health problems can benefit from the project – joining in with food growing, taking up learning opportunities, and experiencing the restorative enjoyment of being in an outdoor natural environment. We are also keen to involve children and young people, through schools and youth groups.
We plan to make the allotment space available to a range of community groups to learn about gardening in a supported way. We believe all the participants will benefit from a project that includes people of all abilities.
We are currently applying for funding from the National Lottery Local Food Fund. We hope to gain funding to build raised beds, create pathways, erect a poly tunnel, build a compost loo, provide seating and create a forest garden. We are hoping to fund a part time post to provide horticultural input and organise volunteers.
As part of the application process we have had a visit from a national lottery local food adviser. Although competition for funding is fierce, she believes we have a strong project.
She said: “A strength of your application is the focus on creating an inclusive and accessible site where people with mental and physical health problems can benefit from the project.”
“Another strength is the holistic nature of the project, encompassing the growing cycle from seeds and propagation to growing, harvesting, (maybe even eating?), composting and back to growing.”
We are looking for folk who can devote a bit of time who would be interested in helping to develop this project. The job in hand at the moment is to do some consultation with likely interested users/partners. This could be talking to schools or youth groups, talking to residential homes, talking to self-help health groups.
If you think you could help, get in touch!
Clare Hanson-Kahn, plot 10a Davis Field
(0117) 944 4413

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