This is my story of the development of a new community agriculture resource close to Junction 9 of the M6, in Wednesbury, one of the six towns of Sandwell. It’s a personal blog – a record – of the insights, questions, frustrations and triumphs of putting together a successful urban agriculture programme, What is posted here does not necessarily represent the views if my employers or other members of our 11 strong team. Only one has been on this journey with me before – the others don’t know what they are in for but they are willing and able
I am a lifelong farmer and grower, starting as a kid in my Mum’s garden ( once we had one), progressing to a first ramshackle site in Devon, to a 30 acre organic farm and market garden, then into urban agriculture. Most of my work has been in Sandwell, West Midlands, UK, although I’ve also travelled a lot and seen many other wonderful examples of people just getting on with it, and finding ways to grow food, flowers and lovely things in all sorts of spaces.
Officially, the new initiative starts January 9th, the day of my return to work in 2012, but the story starts many years before, spotting the site and then working to bring a project forward and to get funding for it. We finally got enough money (about £230,000) at the very end of 2011, for two years of painstaking regeneration of the 1.2 hectares of land, and the gradual ‘build of the infrastructure, together with a staged process of engagement with local people and organisations.
This is my way of keeping a record and sharing the story. There will be tears, colourful language, desperation, mud, bullozers and holes in the ground, regulations, regulations, regulations; and delights and happy smiles as a once eyesore derelict piece of land, is transformed into a health promoting community resource.