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Volunteers make Wilmslow look good enough to eat

FROM planting goji berry bushes to plum trees, ‘Incredible Edible Wilmslow’ (IEW) have been greening and cleaning in time for the 'Britain in Bloom' competition.

IEW has six weeks to go before six RHS judges will assess them on their horticultural excellence, environmental responsibility and community participation.  

The group hope to be one of 70 communities out of 1000 to be selected to enter the national finals and have a chance to win Gold, Silver Gilt, Silver or Bronze awards.

Volunteers meet once a month to plant fruit and vegetables for the public to pick. Other groups across town have organised balsam bashing, weeding, litter picking and clearing graffiti as part of the town's united clean up. An adults with learning difficulties group of ten take part and help with weeding and watering twice a week.

Helen Yates, who set up the group in 2010, heard about an Incredible Edible group set up in Todmorden where she previously lived and was so inspired she decided to plant one in Wilmslow. "Being there and seeing the impact of the idea inspired me," she said.

"It just seemed such a simple and brilliant way to unite everyone without judgement, such a nice thing to do for your town and thus having an impact on behaviour in a positive way.

"And so in turn, small steps to improving our environment, through knowledge, learning and a shared identity, I was inspired and there begun IEW.

“Short term, the priority for IEW is to get our planters making the front of Wilmslow station looking neat, tidy and bursting with edible treats.

“There are seedlings in at the moment, which are of course small so we need lots of sunny days and rainy nights to get them going. We are also looking at sculptures of fruit & vegetables, we currently have a wooden apple outside Wilmslow station and have permission for more.”

The Wilmslow group works alongside the whole community, with local schools encouraging children to grow their own produce and teaching them about gardening as well as community chefs who demonstrate how to use some of the produce in a variety of dishes.

The local parish is involved and runs a free food project, 'food friend' in conjunction with IEW which allows individuals in need to pick their own free fresh food from the boxes and beds. Revd Magdalen Smith said: "I believe Incredible Edible is a genuinely inspiring project, makes the town look better and creates a strong sense of caring for the local environment.

"In terms of the future I know Helen and others are continuously looking for new ‘spare’ land to grow things on, volunteers who want to get involved and is always thinking of new ways to link the project with others within our community."

Local businesses will be joining in on supplying edible treats by planting herbs, fruit and vegetables in their fronts as well as planters and borders.

There are 30 Incredible Edible groups in the UK and some abroad. 

The Britain in Bloom judging will take place in late June or early July when judges will be given a two-and-a-half hour tour. Volunteers meet at 2pm at Wilmslow Library on the first Sunday of each month.

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About Charlie Kennedy

Having studied Law, English and Philosophy, I went travelling to India for 6 weeks working in orphanages and in a leper colony. I came home and decided to study Journalism. Starting my third and final year this September, I have just been given the fanta... read more