Tool Appeal 2017

To kick off the new year, January was devoted to realigning the beds at Vegmead Edible Garden with our new design plan. Not much has changed — it’s still a circle! — but we’ve brought back a little symmetry and valiantly fought back against the impact of 6 years of gravity on the beds. Sadly, we had to bid farewell to a very woody rosemary shrub in the process.

The New Year has brought with it new enthusiastic volunteers, and we couldn’t be more excited! However, this made it all the more clear that despite being full of spirit, Vegmead is severely limited by our lack of tools. Our weekly sessions continue to rely heavily on our more seasoned volunteers bringing their own tools from home.

That of course brings us to our 2017 Tool Appeal!

Each day from Jan 30th to Feb 3rd, we’ll be posting a video call out for donations, on all of our social media platforms, for a specific tool. Keep an eye out on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the website to see if we’re in search of a rake or a ride-on mower!

In all seriousness, Vegmead hopes to continue providing the opportunity for anyone who’s interested in gardening to get their hands dirty and to learn a thing or two about growing and enjoying their own food. In a time where we’re confronted with increasing food insecurity, the continued use of unsustainable farming practices and threats to public green spaces, we hope to play a small role in a much larger movement of local food growing.

To be a part of this community and to create positive learning experiences for volunteers we require the tools  — literal garden tools — to make this happen! Properly equipped with these tools, we hope to offer fun, collaborative learning opportunities to strengthen both our geographic and local food movement communities.

Please help us keep Vegmead thriving so that we might continue learning, teaching and contributing to our communities.

We would be grateful for any donation of tools, whether old or new.

tool-appeal

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The Vegmead remodel is coming

It’s the end of an incredible year for Vegmead and while we’re taking time to reflect on the events of the last 12 months, we’re also looking ahead to 2017.

The summer of 2016 saw the garden threatened with removal and the formation of Vegmead Community Group to campaign for it to remain in Hedgemead Park and to plan for a productive future. The strength of feeling from the surrounding community meant that we received nearly eighty messages of support. We featured several times in the Bath Chronicle and in an ITV South West television report. On 15th September we received news that the Council had changed their mind and that Vegmead was remaining in Hedgemead Park. It was a very intense seven weeks and all of us went on a steep learning curve.

The months since have seen us out and about meeting other food growers in Bath and making connections across the city and beyond. We’re now ready to apply for funding so we can increase the number of volunteers we can accommodate. We’re desperately in need of garden tools (we have a few old rusty implements). If you have any garden tools that need a new home please email us at vegmead@gmail.com. We’ll give them a wonderful second life!

Now that 2017 is upon us we’re ready to undertake an extensive remodel of the site. After 5 years Vegmead is in need of a refresh and January will see us re-shaping the beds and paths. We’ll also be asking local people what they’d like us to grow at Vegmead across the 2017 growing year. We always welcome new volunteers and if you’d like to help out do get in touch via our Facebook page or via email at vegmead@gmail.com

Stay in touch with developments via our Facebook page and via our Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Thank you all for your support over 2016 and we look forward to meeting you at Vegmead in the New Year.

Tim, Adam, Oli, Alastair, Beth, Nat, Erica, Tom, Katherine, Jon, Emma, Tom, Joe, Jodie, Helena and Sarah

 Vegmead Community Group

Autumn with Rodney

The grass at Hedgemead Park is now covered with a carpet of fallen leaves and most of our produce from this growing (and turbulent) year has been harvested. We still have spicy leaves and winder hardy spring onions available though.

Over a month on from hearing that the Council had changed its mind about the removal of Vegmead we find that the site goes from strength to strength. We have a growing membership and have been asked to give talks and attend networking events. The Save Vegmead campaign raised our profile enormously and we’ve made lots of new friends and connections.

Over the winter we’ll be using our growing plan for next year, developed by the wonderful Emma Bond of Bath Garden Design, to remodel the site and prepare for a bountiful 2017. We’re also on the lookout for funding to enable us to realise our aim of engaging a wider section of the community and supporting them to develop knowledge and skills.

And so…. as the days shorten and weather cools we hope that you’ll be able to join us for a spot of digging, raking, eating and cloud spotting. Rodney, our resident rhubarb, is keen to welcome you to Vegmead, and so are we!

Keep an eye on our facebook page for the dates of our gardening sessions and other activities and events.img_2572

 

 

 

Marrows at a Council meeting

We’re looking forward to the vegetable giveaway we’ll be doing tomorrow- fancy a free marrow?

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The Council are meeting tomorrow, Thursday 15th September at 6.30pm and Vegmead Community Group will be outside the Guildhall from 5.30pm giving away free vegetables to highlight our Save Vegmead campaign and to promote community food growing in Bath.

We’ll be heading into the Council meeting at 6.30pm where we’ll be watching one of our supporters question the Council about their decision to remove Vegmead from it’s current location.

Come along and show your support, we hope to see you there!

Beth, Tim, Jo, Alastair, Adam, Jon, Tom, Emma, Jodie, Oli, Nat, Helena & Sara
Vegmead Community Group

Raspberries Galore

As we head towards Autumn Vegmead is still producing soft fruit on a daily basis. After 4 weeks of blackcurrants we’ve had three weeks of raspberries and they are delicious. Vegmead’s fruit harvest this year has included strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, rhubarb and gooseberries.   It’s wonderful to visit the site on my way home from work and pick a few raspberries plus a few salad leaves for dinner. The raspberries have been popular with children too. A week or so ago I met a woman and her grandson picking the fruit at Vegmead. She told me that she often visits the site and recently her grandson has been going straight to the raspberries and picking as much of the fruit as he could reach. It was great to see the site serving its community purpose and bringing enjoyment to local people. 13895029_1051557348268248_7731890940141670580_n

 

Press release: Vegmead Community Group’s response to BANES proposal for Hedgemead Park

In light of the recent announcement by Bath & North East Somerset Council of the proposed improvements to Hedgemead Park, Vegmead Community Group (VCG) wish to challenge statements made concerning the future of Vegmead, the food growing space that we run within the park. The full announcement from the Council can be found here: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/latestnews/improvements-hedgemead-park-bath

We are challenging each of the reasons given for the Council’s wish to see Vegmead removed from its current location along with the suggestion that Vegmead be located to Kensington Meadows.

  • It is on a steep slope and has limited access to water, compost facilities, storage and other amenities.

Vegmead’s access to water, compost facilities, storage and other amenities has been greatly aided by the local community investment in the site, including donations from local businesses. Compost facilities and access to water do exist on site and these are complemented by additional water and compost brought to Vegmead by volunteers living locally. The upkeep of the space represents a cost saving for the council and the loss of the space would mean the loss of these free inputs into the site. As Honorary Alderman David Dixon has stated, “Local councils have less money than ever before to look after our parks. Therefore they should be welcoming all groups who are willing to ‘take on’ a space and look to make these truly valued partnerships.”Further investment in the site by VCG will create more sustainable access to these resources.

  • It is relatively difficult to access and is largely inaccessible to those with limited mobility.

Vegmead does indeed present some access issues to those with limited mobility but VCG takes a proactive and solution-based approach to this issue. With council support, VCG can source and secure funding to open up access to the site, a view encouraged by Ben Howlett MP during a recent meeting. This would represent a cost saving to the council and once again demonstrate a progressive community-led approach to creating volunteering opportunities for all.

Vegmead’s removal would not remove the access issues but would instead remove local volunteers from the park who have a vested interest in maintaining the area, clearing litter and discouraging anti-social behaviour by providing a regular presence, local resident Celia pinpointed this in her view that “The visibility of Vegmead is what matters – it shows industriousness, environmentalism and creates a sense of safety to see others”.This community-led approach is something encouraged by the Royal Horticultural Society who run schemes such as It’s Your Neighbourhood.

In 2011 35 volunteers gave 400 hours collectively to set up Vegmead. In the subsequent 5 years approximately 3000 volunteer hours have been given to the site which represents a monetary value of approximately £25,000.

  • It is poorly-suited to a heritage landscape.

Vegmead broadens Bath’s horticultural offering within a heritage landscape that is well served with flower beds and does nothing to detract from the listed elements of Hedgemead Park (the railings, bandstand, water fountain and other structural features). In most of the parks in Bath there are ice-cream stalls, cafes, public loos, an entire skate park, a children’s playground, all within the site of the World Heritage boundary. Parks are not museums, nor should they be treated as such. They are living and breathing spaces for people. As resident Bruno simply stated, “The formality of Hedgemead and the resourceful nature of Vegmead make it an excellent showcase for a city re-displaying itself for future generations.” The ability of Bath to both protect its heritage and look ahead to the challenges of the 21st century is vital to ensuring the city is a dynamic, creative and sustainable place to live and work.

  • The location and layout of the space limits opportunities for the plot to develop further.

Vegmead is a food growing site. Every food growing site no matter what size presents continuous opportunity as long as the soil is fertile. Rotation of crops, trials of new varieties and companion planting supports the growth of an array of crops and enriches local wildlife, especially bee populations. A living space is a space of opportunity.

Vegmead is also a community invested site. There remains further scope to grow and strengthen community linkages including linking up with other nearby food growing spaces to share resources, creating a broader range of volunteering opportunities and offer gardening sessions to vulnerable adults. Much of Vegmead’s ability to reach beyond its physical border is thanks to its visible location, something that local people have voiced so compellingly through the testimonials they have given on the Vegmead website . Lisa Brett, Councillor for Walcot, encapsulates many other local residents’ views in her statement that there is “no justification for the proposal to move the community vegetable garden from Hedgemead to Kensington Gardens”. A community space is a space of opportunity and the improvements to Hedgemead Park should reflect that.

  • Nearby Kensington Meadows is an ideal alternative with large areas of flat, accessible open space, alongside an existing fledgling community orchard.”

Vegmead Community Group believe that the development of a food growing space within Kensington Meadows is something that should be led by members of that specific local community and in collaboration with the Friends of Kensington Meadows group. The aims and objectives of Vegmead exist, in part due to its routing within the community surrounding Hedgemead Park and is not something that can be simply moved elsewhere. Glenn, a London Road business owner, stated “Not only on the outward aesthetic; there is also something much more beautiful and powerful in operation here; a true heart beat exists to the park; a vibrant aliveness that is not something you can just relocate to some hidden corner of Bath.” Its success has arisen from its bottom-up, people-powered development, which cannot be replicated or replaced by a centralised, top-down approach from the local authority.

The BANES Local Food Strategy (2014-2017) states that the council wish to ‘support the provision and retention’ of community food growing spaces, protecting local food infrastructure. To remove Vegmead from its current location and assume that it could be simply moved elsewhere with the same community involvement is presumptuous.

To understand the strength of feeling that surrounds Vegmead is to understand the sense of place, community and sustainability that a move elsewhere would disrupt and dislocate.

For the reasons stated above, Vegmead Community Group considers BANES Council’s intended decision to move Vegmead from Hedgemead Park to Kensington Gardens as unjustified, unpopular and unnecessary. We therefore urge the Council to reconsider.

Campaign Update: BaNES Proposal For Hedgemead Park

CAMPAIGN UPDATE: BANES have published their proposal for refurbishing Hedgemead Park and it looks as though they’re still set on taking Vegmead away.

The council is ‘concerned that the current site is unsuitable for a number of reasons’.

The Vegmead Community Group will be producing a written response to the reasons given and are concerned about the lack of consultation undertaken.

Read more at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/latestnews/improvements-hedgemead-park-bath