Community gardening: urban bioregioning

Before moving to Argyll I lived and worked in Newcastle. Recently I was at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Scotswood Community Garden which I started up back in 1995 and helped develop during its formative first five years.
Community gardens are a powerful way of reconnecting with your local bioregion, which is often difficult to sense in a built-up environment. However, the collective act of growing plants for different uses – food, craft, building, pleasure – inevitably leads you to consider local traditions.
In Scotswood’s case I researched fruit growing in the Newcastle area and came across an old orchard only a few miles away in a suburban setting. There was another at a farm further up the Tyne valley. As a permaculture designer fruit was a priority so I obtained over a hundred apple, pear and plum trees from Rogers Nursery in North Yorkshire; the nearest supplier I could find to our Tyne valley bioregion. These original trees still form the basis of the forest gardens at Scotswood.
We also grew an old variety of wheat, harvested it by hand and got it milled at a Northumberland water mill.
The story of how the garden came into being is set down in an article that has just been published on the Permaculture Magazine website – follow the link: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/urban-community-gardening.
Below is a picture of me in the holly circle I planted with my colleague Ian Cameron in 1996 in a secluded corner of the garden. It has an oak growing right up through the centre. The acorn for the oak came from Denton Dene a mile away, where a remnant of the old oak forest still survives.

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About edwardtyler

I live in Kintyre, the long peninsula acting as a natural breakwater for the Firth of Clyde, west of Glasgow. A Permaculture and Transition practitioner, I am working with fellow community activists to co-create a resilient and vibrant local bioregion.

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