Urban Growing

Growing Futures with Edible Bristol

By Sara Venn

Growing Futures is a new, season-long course from Edible Bristol. The aim of this course is to create accessible horticultural and agroecological learning for people considering a land based career in some aspect of growing. Whether you want to grow veg, flowers, herbs or haven’t yet decided but would like to explore the possibilities, this course is for you.

Growing Futures will run throughout term time from late February through to October, taking participants through a full growing season. Full dates are below.

Beginning with the soil, and working on a practical as well as theoretical level at our learning site, Cultivation Place, in Speedwell, students will have the opportunity of learning from horticulturalist Sara Venn and permaculturist and woodsman Luke Murray, who between them have more than forty years experience of land based work and teaching.

Each week students will have two practical sessions and a theoretical session and each week will be focused on a specific sector within horticulture. When appropriate outside tutors will join the session to talk about their land based businesses and projects and we will also visit some local farms and producers.

Term 1: w/c 20th February -w/c 27th March

This terms will cover basic agroecological growing principals including soil and bed preparation and management, composting, soil health and the soil food web along with seasonal seed sowing. There will be a focus on observation of the land to understand what it needs and how it behaves. There will also be a full session on pruning fruit trees, based at our Millennium Square Gardens.

Term 2: w/c 17th April-w/c 21st May

This term we will look at the principles of agroecology and seasonality, focusing on utilising knowledge from term 1 and building on that. Working both in a polytunnel and in outside beds we will look at how to get the best harvests whilst still focusing on soil health, working with the seasons. Introducing productive margins for wildlife, as well as the importance of ponds and utilising any waste as materials for composting, and eliminating the need to buy in inputs. Alongside sowing and planting, intercropping and the beginnings of harvesting this term will be vital learning to build on in future terms.

Term 3: w/c 5th June- w/c 17th July

Building on term 2, term 3 will focus on observation, plant health, maintaining land and healthy soils, alongside propagation and harvesting. This term will also see opportunities to hear farmers and growers speak about their businesses and projects. There will also be focus on business, from setting up to governance and ensuring your business model works for you and the land on which it relies.

Term 4: w/c 1st September- 20th October

Term 4 will look at preparation for the year ahead, alongside harvesting and winter growing. There will be a focus on good winter use of the polytunnel, alongside what can be grown outside for winter crops and to ensure the spring hungry gap is as short as possible. We will look at diversifying and creating opportunities over winter alongside looking at how land based businesses can support local communities. There will be opportunity to look back at the year, hear from land based business people and learn about local network that will support new land based businesses.

For further information and prices contact sara@ediblebristol.org.uk

All photos taken by Janet Gibson at Cultivation Place during the 2022 Get Growing Trail.

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