Leeds Parks and Countryside Edible Beds
These are an LCC Parks initiative - see locations on the Map. The department is fully committed to encouraging edible growing in Leeds public spaces, with Redhall Nurseries (active members of Feed Leeds and LESSN) producing thousands of edible plants for ornamental displays, community and school schemes, and private purchase.
2013 they organised a highly successful competition to help launch Feed Leeds, and also planted ornamental edible beds in many Leeds parks which had formerly only hosted traditional flower bedding. These were initially an experiment to see how the public would react, and how long the displays would last, rather than an exercise in 'public scrumping,' so signs were erected asking people not to harvest the food. Feeds Leeds had a number queries from the public for clarification of this policy, so Parks kindly supplied the statement below.
The project is continuing, with annual competitions to design edible beds next to the Civic Hall, more beds in parks and more edibles in planters. And as the project takes root, more scrumping is being encouraged. Local community groups are also being encouraged to adopt an edible bed, and space also being made available for additional planting by groups in selected parks.
"The edible beds planted at the Civic Hall and in community parks by Leeds City Council are mainly designed for display purposes, to see if vegetables can rival conventional bedding, and to help inspire people to start growing their own food locally, in support of the aims of the Feed Leeds partnership. In this experimental first year, we need to see how well the displays survive the season. The Parks and Countryside Service are therefore happy for people to pick ripe fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, where the impact on the display is low, but if harvesting will leave big gaps in the bedding, we ask people to be restrained, to ensure the display still looks attractive and continues to complement the surrounding area. The Parks and Countryside Service cannot take responsibility for health and safety issues if planting is removed. It is always advisable to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before consuming.
2013 is the first time the service has undertaken edible plantings on a large scale and, for that reason, the growing this year is a trial to find out how well edible plants grow on our sites, how much maintenance they require, how good they look and how much food they actually produce. At the end of the summer season we will review all of the above and decide how to move forward next year. A decision will be made as to whether to grow edible plants again, and about the viability of harvesting and distributing the food for consumption in future. The outcome of this decision will depend on a combination of factors including; how much the edible beds cost to plant, maintain and harvest, health and safety legislation, design and visual issues, and support from the general public. It is hoped that by working with local communities, the edible beds scheme can be extended to included other parks, with produce being harvested and distributed to suitable outlets as appropriate. In line with this aim, this year, we have arranged to donate some of the harvest from the Civic Hall to the St George’s Crypt Charity.
Community Food Growing in Parks and Green Spaces
We would also like to encourage anyone who has been inspired by the displays to think about growing their own food at home, in an allotment, or in local parks or green spaces to visit www.feedleeds.org, or speak to us. Advice on growing at home is available via organisations like Back to Front and others listed on the Feed Leeds website. Land is available for food-growing in a number of Leeds parks (as shown on the Feed Leeds map), allotments are available, and successful community food growing projects are already happening in various locations across the city, including at Oakwood Clock on the edge of Roundhay Park."
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