A few years back (and inspired by the community growing initiative in Todmorden), Sahira Ward decided to approach her local council to see what could be done along these lines in her area. Since then, working with friends, family and neighbours, she has gone on to transform a plot of former waste ground at the top of her road into an edible paradise for the local community.
The group has installed a mixture of raised beds in an area about 250 metres sq and in which they grow everything from pumpkin, courgettes, leeks and Swiss chard to spinach, swede, turnips and soft fruit. They’ve also added a teak tree seat, herb spiral, solar powered water feature and keyhole garden.
Situated right in the middle of a housing estate it’s like a little piece of Eden to the local community who have embraced the project with open arms. Sahira told me;” People are often gobsmacked when they visit our garden. It’s just waiting to burst into life again and I am so excited about the positive effect it’s having on our community. “The people who came forward are all now friends and we’d never have met if it hadn’t been for the garden. Being here enjoying each other’s company, eating delicious free fresh veg – it a totally uplifting experience.”
Sahira believes that creating a garden for your local community shows you believe in it and care about where you live and she’s keen to encourage others to do the same in their area. She says: “Once this space was a waste land, now it’s the most beautiful garden loved by everyone who enters it. People come here to start a conversation, do some gardening, harvest some free vegetables or just sit and enjoy the space. We have created something that can be enjoyed for generations to come. I can’t recommend enough the benefits of setting up a project of this kind and volunteering in this way.”
She’s not the only one to agree – Incredible Edible Dunstable has won many accolades over the years including best community project in Anglia in Bloom and it has just won funding from the RHS to enable the project to expand even further
Anyone that wants to get involved in this fantastic project simply turns up to one of their events and helps out. Alongside the produce Sahira says; “the biggest harvest is the friendship, camaraderie and feeling of community pride which proves that giving back really does make a huge difference to people’s lives.”
To find out more about Incredible Edible Dunstable see here