Staff and students at Leeds Trinity University are growing their own fruit and vegetables in a community garden on campus.
Located within the garden of the University’s Enterprise Centre, the plot – which is part of the international Incredible Edible Network – began last month thanks to donations from local businesses and a bit of hands-on gardening from a group of Enterprise users, students and University staff.
Becky Mears from The Travelling Tea Ladies – a seasonal baking business at the Trinity Enterprise Centre – instigated the idea after her work with the Incredible Edible group in Guiseley.
She said: “For my business, it’s so important that I bake with seasonal produce that I’ve picked myself or has been grown locally. Fruit, vegetables and herbs taste best when they are fresh, in season, and haven’t travelled far – so when I started using an office space at the Enterprise Centre and saw the fantastic garden space outside, it seemed like the perfect place for a community food garden.
“Getting busy outside and seeing things grow is good for your mental wellbeing, and the fact that you then have a free, nutritious source of food is fantastic for health too. As it’s great for the environment too, we’re keen for students and staff to think about their food comes from, eating seasonally and growing their own food – as well as being involved socially; enjoying being outdoors, picking and cooking delicious, cheap and nutritious meals.”
Phil Williams, careers and employability consultant at Leeds Trinity University said: “Our campus is set in 40 acres of land, providing lots of opportunities for our students and staff to enjoy being outside. Now, with our Incredible Edible garden, we’re confident that our students’ knowledge of food, nutrition and healthy eating will improve greatly – and give them the opportunity to use food sourced from the University grounds.”
So far, the team of volunteers have planted herbs (donated by Orb Community Arts and Leaf Cutters), strawberries and chillies (donated by The Travelling Tea Ladies), carrots and courgette (donated by Miller Sucre), tomatoes and broccoli (donated by Leaf Cutters) and blackcurrant (donated by Moorview Handmade).
As part of the monthly planting sessions, The Travelling Tea Ladies have also been baking cakes for the volunteers using produce from the garden – including chocolate mint cupcakes, gooseberry and elderflower muffins, and pistachio and rose cake.
Gareth Craven, who graduated from Leeds Trinity with a First Class Honours degree in Business last month, is currently based at the Enterprise Centre, running his own business; Hire-An-Artist.
He said: “I’ve never done gardening before but got involved after a chance opportunity to join in, and I thought it would be a fun opportunity to take up! It made for a great change of things to do in the afternoon and it will also be useful for when I get to do my own gardening in the future!”
Staff and students at Leeds Trinity are encouraged to contribute to the community garden by planting, watering and picking fruit and vegetables. It is hoped over the next 12 months, more people will join the University’s picking and cooking sessions, and students will take a lead on choosing what to plant for next season.
Incredible Edible was started in 2007 by a group of like-minded people in Todmorden in West Yorkshire as small herb gardens and community plots. The Incredible Edible Network launched in 2012 to support members and inspire new groups. There are now more than 100 Incredible Edible groups across the UK, as well as global groups around the world.