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Green fingered students dig deep to transform community garden
by FoodCycle Bristol
November 3, 2013

After collecting 16 bags of rubbish and some extreme pruning, green fingered students from the University of Bristol have helped to transform a neglected area of Easton as part of their mission to create a community haven and learning space.

Volunteers from FoodCycle Bristol, an award-winning initiative to cut food waste and alleviate food poverty, joined forces with the Avon Wildlife Trust to start work on restoring garden at Easton Community Centre to its former glory.

Braving the rain and working with the Avon Wildlife Trust, the group have worked hard to reveal hidden benches, fruit bushes and even a wildlife pond, all in much need of some tender loving care.

After this initial clearing stage, the plan is to grow fruit and vegetables, create a wildlife garden and encourage people back through the gates, to take pride in the garden and enjoy it once again.

Danielle Jackson, a 3rd year Geography student at Bristol University and a manager at FoodCycle Bristol, said: “Before we started, the garden was disguised by a knotty, tangled mess of brambles and bracken which had grown absolutely wild. Our mega litter pick resulted in about 16 bags of assorted recycling and rubbish, including bottle, cans and more random items such as shoes, a car radio and even a lamp.

“With the expert advice of a local tree surgeon, a few rogue trees were pruned back to a less imposing size and we carried out some extreme pruning to reveal a really big space, somewhere we hope will be enjoyed by the community, both for leisure and learning.”

FoodCycle Bristol caters for around 50 people at the Easton Community Centre every Sunday as part of its efforts to alleviate food poverty. It collects food from supermarkets and grocers across the city, which would otherwise be throw away.

Student volunteers hopes to use the garden to educate people about food poverty and encourage them to grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Matt Harcourt, Communities and Nature Project Officer at the Avon Wildlife Trust, said: “The Easton Corner Garden Project is such a great space and has so much potential both for people and wildlife. The garden has had lots of time and effort put into it over the past few years but has recently become overgrown and used for antisocial behaviour.

“The aim is to work with local people and groups who use the Community centre and incorporate a gardening session before the Sunday FoodCycle meal in the community centre, to re-establish the momentum of people using the site in a positive manner and inspire them about their local green spaces and the amazing wildlife that lives on our doorsteps.”

For further information or to get involved, please see the FoodCycle Bristol Facebook page, join the mailing list via

http://groupspaces.com/FoodCycleBristol/ or email foodcyclebristol@gmail.com

About FoodCycle Bristol

The FoodCycle Bristol scheme, which was established in 2009, has served over 4,000 free meals from its base in the Easton Community Centre, where it operates on a weekly basis.

It has since grown and, in addition to serving free three-course meals to an average of 50 beneficiaries in Easton every Sunday, it now runs a pop-up restaurant which charges £3 for students to ensure the project is self-sustaining. The pop-up restaurant started up in autumn 2010 and has since become well established, operating fortnightly and feeding 120 students.

FoodCycle Bristol is completely co-ordinated by students and volunteers from throughout the community who either help run the kitchen or transport the waste food to the kitchen using bicycle trailers. The initiative saves 670kg of food from being thrown away each month.

With over 500 volunteers, widespread engagement from the community and having registered just under £3,000 profit last year, they are hoping to set up a second community kitchen in the near future.

About the Avon Wildlife Trust

Avon Wildlife Trust is the largest local charity working to protect wildlife in the Avon area. With the support of over 16,000 members, it looks after 35 nature reserves, campaigns on issues which threaten wildlife and encourage everyone to be more concerned about our natural environment.

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