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Tuesday July 16 2019

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Gardening with Hannah Genders

All things green and growing

Posted on February 25 2019 at 1:44:34 0 comments

Tim

Hannah Genders looks forward to another busy Malvern Show.

Last May I was too unwell to run the feature I had helped set up at the Malvern Spring Show.

I was extremely grateful to friends who took over and did a brilliant job of running it for me – in fact they did a better job than I could have done, so I want them back with me this year!

I did manage to get along briefly on the Thursday, and it was great to see everyone.

The feature is called The EGG which stands for Eco, Green and Growing. It will be running again this year and it’s all about promoting community groups who are growing food and helping people improve their lives.

The idea is that the show provides a platform for people to come and tell their story, share information on gardening and generally help us all realise that there are some great people out there doing some inspiring things in our communities.

I want to tell you about some of the groups who are being represented this year, such as Tim Dixon and his team from Colwall Community Orchards, who were there last time and are keen to come back.

The Colwall Community Orchard, just over the other side of the hill from Malvern, covers about seven acres. It’s all managed by volunteers and is about teaching people practical skills to keep the orchard thriving.

The fruit is shared, and they have managed to do up an old packing shed on the site where school children and groups can learn about local diversity and our wonderful fruit heritage in this area of the country.

In addition to the orchards, the group set up allotments for people in 2011, covering about two acres. The whole site is gardened on organic principles and the plots are deliberately smaller in size than standard-sized allotments, which most people find too large to manage.

As the orchards and allotments are all about community and bringing people together, there are plenty of events to encourage the social side of community gardening.

I personally believe that this is the best way to learn about horticulture – it is such a practical subject and it was how I learned on my first allotment during the time we lived in south Birmingham.

My boys were little, and I was missing my rural upbringing so much that I took on an allotment near me. I learned so much from the “old boys” (there were hardly any women then).

My first lesson was being shown the right way to plant leeks; I’ve never forgotten it. I loved it down there and I remember seeing so much wildlife on my visits, including an old dog fox lying on the roof of my shed early one morning!

The Eco Birmingham project is also returning to Malvern this year. Jackie and her team are a charity that is now city-wide and has grown from a small project in Northfield.

They run a number of community gardens in inner-city areas, helped by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Most of the projects revolve around growing food. The principles they follow are organic and permaculture-based (permaculture is the development of gardening ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient).

They also run cooking programmes to encourage healthy eating on a low budget.

Last year Jackie’s team created a really fun display, with a recycled bed complete with planted bedspread of flowers and a clothes line with planted bras! It’ll be fun to see what they come up with this year.

The EGG feature is laid out with a central tepee and there is a running programme of talks, demonstrations, and music.

The talks are from the contributors who set up the projects, celebrities and visiting speakers, but we also have lots of demonstrations taking place, everything from grafting fruit to running community seed swaps and hedgerow herbalism. 

Around the tepee are planted beds with vegetables and fruit. We are fortunate to have Frank Matthews, a well-known fruit nursery in Hereford, helping us again this year.

They provided some amazing trees last time in large apple boxes, and there will be a yurt in this “orchard” part of the feature with will weaving workshops throughout the show.

I am also hoping to sign up a fabulous charity who are doing food growing projects in Malawi.

As I seek out these people and projects to invite them along to the show, it reminds me there are some great things going on all around us – it’s inspiring and positive.

RHS Malvern Spring Festival May 10–12 (May 9 is for press and RHS members only). We will be in the Grow and Know section. More info at http://www.rhsmalvern.co.uk/whats-on

Above: Tim Dixon with the planted bras.


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