The Incredible Edible project aims to bring people together through actions around local food, helping to change behaviour towards the environment and to build a kinder and more resilient world. See the story of how it all started in Todmorden, Yorkshire
Sustainable Wallingford started our local Incredible projct in 2019, adding to the hundreds of others round the world, including the beds in Abingdon and Didcot you may have seen. We tackled two unloved plots outside Wallingford and Benson Libraries.
We were amazed how positive everyone has been, and so grateful to the hardy and tenacious volunteers who have joined us in clearing, both being done in record time! The local school at Benson helped as the serious growing started there. As much as possible is recycled. We used free local compost from the Agrivert recycling centre and wood from Oxford Wood Recycling,and planted edibles for everyone to share- salads, fruit, beans, courgettes, spuds, beetroot and herbs, with some welcome contributions and swaps of plants
The first year went well and we produced loads of vegetables. Gradually we have learnt what grows well, and held some events to pass on growing skills. Each year we extend our activities and at Benson have a long and prouctive raspberry season which attracts children from 6.30am. After school they can also pop into the Library.
After the COVID19 lockdown, we decided we could restart Incredible Edible in Wallingford and Benson, and take advantage of the 2020 growing season, providing we kept apart. We have very successfully used WhatsApp groups both at Wallingford and Benson, to co-ordinate a bunch of keen people.
At Wallingford in 2021, in front of the Library, we extended the beds and planted a variety of new crops, mostly from seed. We have a team who take turns to keep the plants happy and watered during dry spells, with as much water as possible from the Library roof. We have opened up the hidden wooded area at the back of the Library, to provide reading and activity space alongside edible and woodland plants. We had a great weekend clearing the area: over two days people came and went to lend a hand, however small or rickety. Former mutual friends from the sixties came to light as we chatted and dug. Old branches,rubbish, and stones went for recycling to prepare for woodland plants and fruit. We put in extra woodland plants from our gardens and hopefully watered them during the hottest weather,although 2022 has been even dryer and hotter. The overhead canopy has been much reduced to allow more light as well as making the area safe from falling branches!
Clever Vicki arranged to take over some of the nursery equipment from the Bullcroft Rainbow rooms, now sadly closed and abandoned. The next job in the was to plant fruit trees and bushes.We hope Library users will soon be able to enjoy the outside space as well as produce from the front garden
Yvonne and Ian demolished and reassambled a large double raised bed, and we collected some cute seats- some sawn-off logs and a mini picnic table. Also some excellent plants: honeysuckle, greasses , and jasmine to add to he woodland plants already there and plants from our own gardens.
Wallingford Green Spaces helped with the digging, and Chris Gibbs from Gibbs Gardens brought a vital trailer to move things a challenging 200 yards from the Bullcroft to the Library. The Library is open now and we hope to see users outside soon.
At Benson, there is a smart new fence and yet more beds, aiming to beat our spectacular first year. We are now part of Benson Community Gardens at Benson allotments and share some plants and events.
One Sunday morning Incredible Edible at Benson enjoyed the sunshine and topped up the woodchip paths outside Benson Library. People came and went, and everyone used their own method to move the huge pile, courtesy of First Tree Surgeons, to smarten up the paths with a fresh layer.
Produce is flourishing, do pause to help yourself from the beds or the table outside the bike shed. Its for everyone to share and enjoy good fresh produce with no pesticides.
We hope that in 2022 we can involve more people to help them meet others and take gentle fresh air exercise, as well as helping themselves to produce
The aim is not just to grow edible plants for people to help themselves to as they pass by; plants such as raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, various herbs, carrots, spring onions, leafy greens, and BEANS. Just as important is to to raise interest in growing food and where it comes from, to provide outdoor gentle exercise in a sociable setting and of course to enhance the Libraries.
Hopefully when you visit, you will notice when things are ripe or ready to pick and take a few, leaving some for other people to enjoy of course. Do please also give us a hand with a little light weeding or watering, as “If you eat, you’re in”. Look out for news of regular sessions to weed and chat.