ALL WELCOME HOPE YOU CAN COME AND JOIN US - NO PRESSURE - WORK AT YOUR OWN PACE- MEET THE LEAP TEAM - GET INVOLVED - TODAY AT 10am ST GEORGE'S PARK. ALL WELCOME!
It has been a year since the Let's Eat the Park team were awarded funding by The People's Health Trust to develop the planting of edibles in St George's Park initially and then Baxter Gardens Park and St George's churchyard. It seems particularly apt to us that the People's Park (Since 1927) has been funded by the People's Health Trust thereby leaving no uncertainty about who the project has been created by and who its fruits are intended for. LEAP is a resident led self help or mutual aid project created by local volunteers and their partners. The first step in making the park more edible came in the Winter of 2011 when the chutney hedge was first established in a joint project between the Friends of St George's Park and children from St George's Primary School. Chutney makers will be pleased to hear the hedge is thriving and will be providing a positive cornucopia of traditional chutney ingredients to be harvested later in the year. We'll put chutney recipes on the LEAP blog nearer the time. During 2012 the chutney hedge and a crab apple tree were pretty much the only edibles in St George's Park - Let's Eat the Park changed all that after gaining sponsorship from The People's Health Trust, Wyre Forest Clinical Commissioning Group and several other successful funding bids in June 2014. In the past year the LEAP team have added edible varieties to St George's and Baxter Gardens Parks, the local churchyard and a previously derelict and overgrown bank of former scrubland on Baxter Avenue itself. We continue to discuss new growing areas in the Horsefair/Greenhill/Town Centre areas within our funding boundaries.
The current list of fruit, vegetables and herbs planted either directly by LEAP volunteers or in partnership with St George's School and WFDC Parks Department, include:- hawthorn, damson, apples, pears, plums, almonds, mulberry, quince, cherries, mirabelle, hazel, elder, blackthorn, strawberries, red currants, black currants, gooseberries. tay berries, blackberries, loganberries, dog rose, onions, leeks, chives, garlic, mint, cucumber, chilli peppers, butternut squash, sweetcorn, borlotti beans, runner beans, courgettes, tomatoes, fennel, rosemary, sage, field beans and pumpkins. So the team have been busy with weekly work groups circulating between growing areas including the custom built and accessible herb and vegetable raised beds in St George's park.
Halfway Through Phase One
Because our initial People's Health Trust funding was for two years we are presently at the half-way point in this part of the project. We see it as a sustainable long-term project because some fruit and vegetables cannot be expected to be highly productive in their first season. This means that when a growing project like ours starts in June, it will only be at the early stages of the first growing season on its first birthday as a general rule and that is where LEAP is now. Its not true for everything of course, the red onions for example will soon be ready for harvesting, the chives are ready to be picked now and some of the herbs like the rosemary for instance have been big enough to use for quite a while, as they were in March for cake ingredients at the Youth House Comic Relief event. But now as Spring morphs into Summer we are entering the most fruitful time of year and of course like any community gardener would be, the LEAP team is hoping for an abundant crop. The sustainability of the project is based upon the fact that we have established pocket orchards that will continue to provide fruit in years to come and wildflower meadows that have created an eco-system in which invertebrates feed the growing bird population and pollinators flourish in our urban green spaces. Let's Eat the Park is therefore not only about creating a free food source for all the people that live in the area but for everything that eats the park and enriches our environment with nature's incredible diversity. As the inspirational Incredible Edible project slogan says "if you eat you're in" and the same is true of LEAP which also taps into the therapeutic value of parks and other green spaces. There is a wealth of evidence that shows that parks help town dwellers to be healthier and less stressed out. The LEAP team offer a welcoming hand to people who feel stressed or perhaps isolated and an opportunity to meet others in a healthy environment and to be involved in what people have been involved in for centuries, that is producing food to feed the community and making the place where they live more attractive, more sustaining and more sustainable than it was before. The LEAP team are pleased with the progress so far and look forward to the next phase of the project. If you are interested in becoming involved or just want to know more, you can contact us through the website, by email or social media - or just look out for us in the park(s) most Saturdays. There are work parties between 10am and 12.30pm - we are the ones in the hi-viz vests with the LEAP logo on the back - look for more info on the website. All welcome.
Friday 5 June was a day of mixed fortunes. As with every park event there is always some anxiety about the weather especially when, as in this case, thunder storms are forecast. Fortunately they didn't arrive and it remained dry throughout the visit from St George's Primary School year four students. This was the fourth time teachers and children from the school have been involved in planting in the park over the year that Let's Eat the Park has existed. On this occasion 28 children formed into two groups who took turns to plant the bed and/or to go round the park with members of the LEAP team to look at the progress of the project and to find out more about the flora and fauna that live in the park. However, not everything went entirely to plan. First of all there was the tense time prior to the allotted hour when the children were due but when WFDC -who donate bedding plants twice a year for this purpose - had not yet arrived with the plants and the truck was stuck in traffic. The plants and children eventually turned up at the same time - after a phone call to the Parks Department had reassured us the truck was indeed on its way. We had been planning to replant the St George's flag that was a popular floral feature last year, but had to quickly change our plans when orange and yellow marigolds, blue salvias and white begonias were delivered. Undeterred and with one eye on the grey clouds gathering overhead the LEAP team and the party of enthusiastic young gardeners set about planting the bed with what plants we had available. Thankfully the rain held off and the planting and nature trail visit went very well with the children's energy and enthusiasm driving it on. They asked lots of questions (some of which we could answer- some like 'how do birds know there are insects in the meadow area' were more challenging) but they all showed a lot of interest in the LEAP project as the children always have in the past. Some of the students had been to plantings and other LEAP events before and we are always bowled over by how much they remember and their meticulous attention to detail. So okay, the triangular bed is not what we had planned, but it has now been planted with the donated flowers and looks very much better than it did before. The children are aware of the location of the edibles growing in the park and they were all keen to sample them (especially the raspberries and strawberries) when they are ripe. They have also been updated on the wildlife corridor and bird box projects and all of year four without exception expressed their approval for LEAP and all the other park based activities organised by the Friends group. So once again many thanks to the staff and children of St George's CE Primary School for their involvement and interest in what we are doing in St George's Park - the People's Park Since 1927.
Friends of St George's Park
We are an active community group that is committed to working with others in order to further develop and improve St George's Park in Kidderminster for all of the community to enjoy.
Tell people about us
We welcome different ideas and opinions on how to improve our park and we hope you will share yours with us. Please remember this is a community based website and whilst we will not censor different opinions we will remove any posts that are offensive or abusive.