Where does our food come from, how does it get to us, and why should we care? A local project in Banbury is helping to answer just these questions. People can learn about what it means to grow their own food, whilst at the same time living more sustainably and building a warm and friendly community.
Started up by the Banbury Community Action Group to reclaim the land down by the canal for a positive purpose, there is now a flourishing garden of all kinds of yummy things. It has only run since summer 2015 and already there is a beautiful, well-established, flourishing garden.
Bridge Street arches over Oxford canal, the River Cherwell and the train line. Easy to access by train, the garden is also just minutes from the town centre on foot.
As you enter the garden (with a chalkboard telling you when it is open, and a range of plants outside), there is a tall tree hung with bits of paper. These tags are people's wishes - an excellent little activity for children to do as well as creating a pretty display blowing in the wind.
When modern children are so often chastised for not spending more time outdoors, building a community or learning about food, a community project like this helps reverse the trend. There may not be Pokemon to catch, but even here the insignia are evident!
At one end is the Oxford canal, with space for narrowboats to pull up, and great access along the towpath in both directions. it may only be a clear piece of land, but it links the land and water, bringing the boating community into the area. Where once it was an unpleasant area, this community initiative has brought it into the public sphere in a much better way.
At the other end is Naomi's cafe, an exciting honesty cafe which supports the local community in a number of ways. Whether you want a coffee meetup by day or a well-stocked bar in the evening, drop-in or private event, this is another wonderful community space.
The garden is not just about growing produce either. Volunteers also do things with what they have grown, which can become public events in their own right. Coinciding with the annual canal day, for example (first Sunday in October), that held an apple pressing day, putting out a call for people to bring their surplus apples over to make juice from them. With pub meetups, barbecues and all kinds of other things going on, this wonderful garden project serves and is served by the local community, but is also a fun and tranquil place for passing visitors to stop and rest.