More than 100 of the UK's community food-growing gardens will be throwing open their gates to the public during September 2012, in the largest open event of food-growing spaces ever seen in the UK.
The Edible Gardens Open Day is part of The Big Dig , a project funded by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund  and co-ordinated by Sustain:the alliance for better food and farming . Six cities – Brighton, Coventry, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough and Sheffield - are taking part in the event this year, with over 5,000 people expected to participate in September.
Clare Horrell from The Big Dig, said: “The Edible Open Gardens events will be the first time many of these gardens have been opened to the public. Gardens have been created in some unusual spaces such as a floating garden on a barge. What they all have in common is that they are run by local people who give up their free time to grow fantastic, tasty fruit and vegetables right in the middle of their communities. We want the public to come and visit, taste what is growing and be inspired to get involved themselves so that food growing sites become a part of every urban community.”
Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society said: "The Social Action Fund is designed to help bring people together through innovative projects that can make a real difference in local communities. The Big Dig is doing just that - enabling community groups to transform unused spaces in cities across England for everyone to share and enjoy. Edible Gardens Open Day will give people a chance to sample the incredible range of projects and hopefully be inspired to get involved themselves."
Many of the participating community food gardens will be putting on activities such as garden tours, talks, games and barbeques, as well as selling garden produce and homemade food. In London, Capital Growth will be organising bike and walking tours whilst Sheffield partner Grow Sheffield will be running training at a city centre ‘village fete’.
Rocky Park Urban Growers, a community food-growing project set up on a large housing estate in East London, took part in last year’s Edible Open Gardens event. They commented: "We ran a walking tour of all our growing spaces as part of the event which culminated with refreshments for everyone who took part. The open day was a great success and it’s great to see that another one is being organised.’
Events run throughout September, with Saturday, 15th September the busiest day in the calendar with events in Manchester, Sheffield, London and Brighton happening on the day. Details of participating spaces will be launched on the The Big Dig website on Wednesday, August 1st at www.bigdig.org.uk.
1. The Edible Gardens Open Day events:
Coventry: An open day event will be held at Ryton Gardens to bring together growers from Coventry. Further events will be held on other days on sites including Housing Association gardens (Sampson Close and Tenyards Farm).
Middlesbrough: 8th September - two events will be held at sites in East and West Middlesbrough. Further events are being planned including a local food celebration event, a town centre event and schools activities leading up to the 8th September.
Sheffield: 14th – 16th September - day 1 is the Sheffield Food Festival, day 2, events on Sheffield growing sites, day 3 ‘village fete’ in the centre of Sheffield at which they will be doing workshops.
Brighton: 15th September - Events across 15 spaces. Planning bike tours, health walks, activities at sites.
London: 15th September - Open day will include bike tours and walks being run and a map being produced with participating spaces.
Manchester: 15th September – Upto 30 spaces will be opening their gates on this day. They will be organising tours and walks between the sites, as well as running a ‘how to do an open day’ session in advance of the event.
2. The Big Dig is is a nationwide project which aims to engage over 10,000 people in community food-growing projects across England. The following partner organisations are managing The Big Dig in each of the six cities:
The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens are also partners in the project and are providing advice to community groups on land issues as well as organising training sessions.
The project builds on the success of Capital Growth which has helped over 60,000 people to get involved in new community food-growing spaces in London. Capital Growth’s Edible Open Garden’s event in 2011 attracted over 1,500 visitors to community growing spaces in the capital.
Follow The Big Dig on twitter @thebigdiguk, or visit our website www.bigdig.org.uk
3. The Social Action Fund is managed by The Social Investment Business, on behalf of the Cabinet Office. The Fund supports social action projects in England from civil society organisations, public sector bodies and businesses with a track record of delivering social action programmes. The Social Action Fund is part of a broader programme of support for social action that was announced in the Giving White Paper and takes its place alongside two other funding streams - Innovation in Giving Fund and Challenge Prizes.
4. Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. https://www.sustainweb.org/