This weekend will see community-run vegetable plots, edible gardens, allotment sites, orchards and urban farms come together to celebrate national Good to Grow Day (April 23rd to April 26th).
The Good to Grow initiative – which is run by the food and farming charity Sustain – helps local food growing schemes promote their activities and encourage more people to get involved through volunteering.
It also offers them the chance to highlight the wide range of health, wellbeing, educational and social benefits which community planting and growing projects can offer.
More details about Good to Grow Day, including a map of local growing projects taking part, can be found at goodtogrowuk.org
Below are also details of some of Greater Manchester’s most well established community food growing schemes which has been complied by local Incredible Edible volunteer Richard Bond.
However, please make sure you check with individual projects about current volunteering opportunities, and any social distancing requirements, before planning a visit.
Sow The City
Established in 2009 with just a few packet of seeds, Sow The City has already successfully transformed six football pitches-worth of derelict and unused land across Manchester into productive food growing spaces.
These include community allotments, school gardens, orchards, green roofs and vegetable plots in the grounds of local hospitals.
Volunteers play a key role in many of Sow The City’s projects and they regularly need help in a variety of ways. This includes constructing or maintaining community gardens, and planting fruit and vegetables. Find out more at sowthecity.org.
Inspired by Todmorden’s pioneering Incredible Edible scheme which began in 2008, there are now several IE projects operating in Greater Manchester.
Sites range from ‘help yourself’ herb and vegetable beds in public spaces to larger plots with greenhouses, polytunnels, orchards and forest gardens.
One of the biggest local schemes is Incredible Education in Eccles which provides a variety of health, wellbeing, skills and educational activities to Salford schools, community groups and residents.
It has also recently transformed an abandoned plant nursery into the Cleavley Community Forest Garden – a 1.5 acre mixed-use site which includes a Forest School, open woodland, extensive food growing zones and a garden shop – incredibleeducation.co.uk.
Another popular IE group is Incredible Edible Prestwich which operates projects around the Prestwich area. These include a major vegetable plot and apple orchard at Philips Park in Whitefield, a forest garden in Prestwich Clough, an allotment site in Sedgley Park, and raised vegetable beds in St Mary’s Park.
To find out more about the national Incredible Edible network including other IE projects in Greater Manchester visit incredibleedible.org.uk.
City of Trees
City of Trees is a Greater Manchester-wide programme which focuses on planting trees and restoring woodlands for benefit of local people, wildlife and the environment.
Working closely with community groups, businesses and local organisations, its target is to plant a tree for every Greater Manchester citizen within five years.
Part of the planting programme includes fruit trees and supporting orchards. They also plant trees in schools, host guided nature walks, and co-ordinate volunteer planting sessions.
Find out more at cityoftrees.org.uk.
The Kindling Trust
Ancoats-based The Kindling Trust has been involved in local food growing, urban farming and sustainable activism for over a decade and runs a wide range of food cultivation projects.
These include Veg Box People and Veg People schemes, which provide organic produce to homes and businesses across Greater Manchester, and the Woodbank Community Food Hub in Stockport which combines community growing projects, commercial organic vegetable production and new farmer training.
The Trust also manages Grow, Cook and Eat, a health and wellbeing social prescribing programme in Stockport in partnership with local GPs.
Many of their projects require volunteers, and they have regular ‘Land Army’ days at their Woodbank site.
They also run workshops to build wooden bird tables and vegetable planters, and are currently recruiting volunteers to help plant 6,000 apple trees. Find out more at kindling.org.uk.
Other Community Growing Projects
RHS Bridgewater has developed a dedicated community programme called Community Grow, while Northern Roots has teamed up with the Alexandra Park Growing Hub to develop a fresh fruit and vegetables growing project aimed at families and communities in need across Oldham.