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Garden the streets of Luton!

Luton Council is inviting local groups to grow fruit, vegetables and bee-friendly plants on public land.

The scheme, called ‘Garden the Town’, launched this month and offers a simple application process for people wanting to transform council-owned land around them into vibrant public gardens. Help is also available with how to get started, and even to discuss funding options if necessary.

Similar successful schemes have been set up in cities and towns around the UK and it is hoped that organisations, businesses and residents’ groups across Luton will take up the invitation to begin gardening the town. As well as improving the appearance of the town, it is now a recognised scientific fact that gardening is good for physical and mental health. It’s been shown to increase life satisfaction, wellbeing, sense of community, and even cognitive function as well as reduce stress, anger, fatigue, and depression and anxiety symptoms.*

Free strawberry plants given away in High Town.

Some groups, such as Penrose Roots, Edible High Town and Groundwork have already been developing public gardens. There are weekly gardening sessions and all the produce is free for local people to take away (for more information on these groups, please visit edibleluton.org).

Doris Brittain, who works with Edible High Town says “We have taken on about 6 small plots now around High Town. Most of them attracted litter and fly-tipping before. Now we grow all sorts, from curry plant to cabbages. There’s something special about seeing someone’s face light up as they dig up potatoes from just outside their house that they
are planning to cook for dinner that night.”

Apart from the obvious benefits of fresh food, according to Doris, it’s also a great way to get to know people and businesses in the area: “I know most of the people who live
around here now and many of them stop to chat, say hi and pick up some fruit or veg when they pass. It’s also been fun learning together and swapping ideas for what to do with chard, kale or artichokes! People constantly comment on the difference it makes to the area.”

Luton Council are hoping that the new scheme will encourage more groups to start turning public land into similar edible garden spaces. Imagine a town where you can
just nip out to get some plums from the local community orchard, or pick your own fresh salad leaves when you need them. Potatoes and carrots growing in roundabouts, broccoli growing where there were previously discarded cans and crisp packets.

If you are part of a local group and want to find out more, or if you are ready to apply for some land, the council would love to hear from you. Just download and fill in the application form, which asks for details such as where the land is, what your plans are, and basic contact information. You’ll usually hear back within two months of applying.

*See Gigliotti and Jarrott, 2005; Gonzalez et al, 2010; van den Berg et al, 2010; Wakefield et al, 2007; Wichrowski et al, 2005; Wood et al, 2016; Rodiek, 2002; Wichrowski et al, 2005; and many more.

Community groups lead drive to create new food gardens

Luton residents are taking to the street to create new community gardens around the town. As part of the Luton Food Plan, a network of organisations and community groups have been developing publicly accessible garden sites and growing fruit, vegetables and bee-friendly plants.

Rose, William and Peter putting in new raised beds at the Ameina Centre in Limbury ahead of their gardening day on Friday 17th April.

Following the successes of gardening projects run by groups like Groundwork, Penrose Roots and Edible High Town, there are new public gardens beginning to plant their first crops in Warwick Rd in Bury Park, Turner’s Knoll in Round Green and at the Ameina Education Centre in Limbury. There are also plans to develop some other sites around town including a site in Bristol Road.

These gardens depend on local people getting involved in planting, maintaining and harvesting the produce, which is all distributed among the local community.

Some of the volunteers at the Round Green gardening day on Saturday 7th March by Turner’s Knoll

Gill Berg, a local resident who volunteers with Edible High Town said: “We have taken on about six small plots now around High Town where most of them had previously attracted litter and fly-tipping. Now we grow all sorts, from curry plants to cabbages. There’s something special about seeing someone’s face light up as they dig up potatoes from just outside their house that they are planning to cook for dinner that night.

“I know many of the people who live around here now and many of them stop to chat, say hi and pick up some fruit or veg when they pass. It’s also been fun learning together and swapping ideas for what to do with chard, kale or artichokes! People of all ages and backgrounds constantly comment on the difference it makes to the area.”

We know that gardening can increase life satisfaction, well-being, a sense of community, and even cognitive functions as well as reduce stress, anger, fatigue, depression and anxiety symptoms.

With the soon-to-be-announced implementation of the ‘Garden the Town’ scheme, the hope is that more of the community gardens will take shape to grow food. If you’d like to get involved, click here https://edibleluton.org/garden-the-town/

Fruit tree pruning workshop

With a growing number of community orchards in Luton, it’s a good time to skill up and learn how to care for our fruit trees.

There will be a fruit tree pruning workshop on Saturday the 22nd February at the Stockingstone Rd Allotments. Tree expert Colin Carpenter will explain and demonstrate pruning techniques, and then participants will have a chance to practice their skills on allotments orchard.

The cost is £10 for waged and £5 low / unwaged and lasts from 10am – 4pm.

For more details and to book your place, please see the event page on Eventbrite.