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.
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.