Neighbourhood Garden is the core idea of Edible Estates. We seek to establish a Neighbourhood Garden in every estate we work in. Whilst there are many types of community garden, we are quite specific about the role of our Neighbourhood Gardens, as an asset for the local community, which provides a ‘place’ and an activity to bring neighbours together and to promote community cohesion/resilience.
The neighbourhood gardens are constructed as much as possible by local residents volunteering at workshops led by our community gardeners. Site infrastructure like fences and arterial paths are installed by contractors, we have developed bespoke sheds which are erected by our own team. The remainder of the site, the community orchard around the perimeter of the site, the raised beds and paths are all built by the participants who go and grow there.
Edible Estates design and build our own bespoke sheds at each garden. The shed houses a shared tool set for the growers, a simple cooking facilities, and in some cases a wood working bench. The shed also doubles up as the meeting room and venue for workshops and events.
The gardens have raised beds for thirty or more growers. The beds are no larger than 4′ by 12′ (1.2 by 3.6m), but a surprising amount of food can be grown in them. Each household/individual has their own raised bed, where they decide what to grow and what to do with their produce. We normally also have several spare raised beds for group growing and/or teaching.
The community orchard around the perimeter of the garden, is based on the ‘forest garden’ model, which includes a lot of fruit trees, bushes and ground cover perennials.
Once the group of growers are well established on the site we support them to set up a Growers Association and then build their capacity to take on the management of their Garden for themselves. After 2 years the Growers Association should be independent of Edible Estates, and part of our network.