A truly edible show garden, A Taste of Wythenshawe celebrates the success of community health and welfare programmes led by sponsors the Wythenshawe Community Housing Group (WCHG).
Designed and built by Foundation Degree Garden and Landscape Design students from Reaseheath College and on display next week at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, the garden incorporates innovative and creative approaches to growing edible plants suitable for a 21st century urban community.
Its inspiration is Real Food Wythenshawe, a five year £1 million Big Lottery-funded community food campaign led by WCHG which promotes ways that people can grow their own fruit and vegetables and cook healthy, economical meals.
After the show the garden will be rebuilt in Wythenshawe Park, where it will be shared by the local community. The re-instatement will be carried out by members of the Turnaround team, a programme developed by WCHG to offer training and potentially employment opportunities to those with criminal records.
All team members have been trained by Reaseheath College and have successfully gained their NPTC Level 2 horticulture award. One member, Stephen Cleator, is now employed in WCHG’s grounds maintenance department.
The Turnaround team assisted in the show build and the local community were involved in pre-show planning and development.
Said WCHG Chief Executive Nigel Wilson: “The Real Food Wythenshawe campaign supports and encourages residents to take control over what they and their families eat. It demonstrates that healthy eating is possible for everyone, regardless of age, budget, ability or time constraints. In the same way, the garden promotes growing and eating home grown produce and, at the same time, reducing food miles and carbon footprint.
“We are delighted to be partnering Reaseheath College with this innovative show garden and even more excited about the prospect of bringing it back home to Wythenshawe. The icing on the cake, for us, is that the Turnaround team are playing a central role in this truly community based project.”
A Taste of Wythenshawe is in the Feast zone, an area which celebrates fresh produce and the joy of growing and cooking home grown food. Cookery demonstrations will take place in the zone using vegetables and fruit from the plot.
The garden design uses interlocking segments to form a crescent shape which mirrors the layout of Wythenshawe’s original garden city. It reflects the concept of the ‘three magnets’: Countryside as an edible ‘forest garden’, Town as a community seat and eat area and Town/Country, a community garden combining edible and ornamental planting. Tramlines represent the connection of Wythenshawe to Manchester through expansion of the Metrolink.
Hydroponics, an aeroponic tower and sculptural features such as rebar trees made by Reaseheath’s Engineering Department offer opportunities for vertical growing to save space and water.Food foraging is promoted through an edible meadow, a foraging forest, a herb living wall, a salad table and a traditional allotment with chicken coup. Pollinating insects, especially bees, are encouraged by a wide variety of pollinator plants and recycled materials are used wherever possible.
The design and build team are students who have just completed their Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design. Most are returning to college for a further year’s study to complete their BSc Landscape Design and Management.
For further details of RHS Flower Show Tatton Park see www.rhs.org.uk/shows
For further details of Reaseheath’s horticulture courses see www.reaseheath.ac.uk/horticulture