Wythenshawe Community Housing Group in partnership with Reaseheath College won Gold for their show garden at this year’s RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park with their edible garden ‘A Taste of Wythenshawe’.
The garden celebrates the success of community health and welfare programmes and was designed and built by students from Reaseheath College in Cheshire in a partnership with WCHG that saw them impress the judges with their innovative and creative approach to growing edible plants suitable for a 21st century urban community
The inspiration for ‘A Taste of Wythenshawe’ is Real Food Wythenshawe, a five year £1 million Big Lottery-funded community food campaign led by WCHG which promotes ways that people can grow their own fruit and vegetables and cook healthy, economical meals.
After the show the garden will be rebuilt in Wythenshawe Park, where it will be shared and enjoyed by the local community. The re-instatement will be carried out by members of the Turnaround team, a programme developed by WCHG to offer training and potentially employment opportunities to those with criminal records.
All team members have been trained by Reaseheath College and have successfully gained their NPTC Level 2 horticulture award. One member, Stephen Cleator, is now employed in WCHG’s grounds maintenance department.
The Turnaround team assisted in the show build and the local community were involved in pre-show planning and development.
Said WCHG Chief Executive Nigel Wilson: “The Real Food Wythenshawe campaign supports and encourages residents to take control over what they and their families eat. It demonstrates that healthy eating is possible for everyone, regardless of age, budget, ability or time constraints. In the same way, the garden promotes growing and eating home grown produce and, at the same time, reducing food miles and carbon footprint.
“We are delighted to be partnering Reaseheath College with this innovative show garden and even more excited about the prospect of bringing it back home to Wythenshawe. The icing on the cake, for us, is that the Turnaround team are playing a central role in this truly community based project.”
A Taste of Wythenshawe is in the ‘Feast’ zone, an area which celebrates fresh produce and the joy of growing and cooking home grown food. Cookery demonstrations will take place in the zone using vegetables and fruit from the plot.
The garden design uses interlocking segments to form a crescent shape which mirrors the layout of Wythenshawe’s original garden city. It reflects the concept of the ‘three magnets’: Countryside as an edible ‘forest garden’, Town as a community seat and eat area and Town/Country, a community garden combining edible and ornamental planting. Tramlines represent the connection of Wythenshawe to Manchester through expansion of the Metrolink.
Hydroponics, an aeroponic tower and sculptural features offer opportunities for vertical growing to save space and water. Food foraging is promoted through an edible meadow, a foraging forest, a herb living wall, a salad table and a traditional allotment with chicken coup. Pollinating insects, especially bees, are encouraged by a wide variety of pollinator plants and recycled materials are used wherever possible.