Caroline Cardew-Smith and Chris Ellis, leading members of Transition Ashtead, were so inspired by the ‘Incredible Edible’ project in Todmorton, that they decided they wanted to do the same for Ashtead’s community and plant ‘Village Vegetables’. They approached the MVDC and the Ashtead Street Traders association with their idea of planting vegetables instead of the usual bedding flowers in the raised planters in The Street. Both were keen to support the project, especially as Transition Ashtead provided all the plants for free, most of which they had grown from seed.
On Derby day instead of going to the races, volunteers armed with trowels, forks and watering cans planted out the vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. They included runner beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn, strawberries, leeks and a variety of herbs and companion flowers to provide colour and attract the bees and pollinating insects.
The idea is that when it’s ready to pick, residents can help themselves to the produce. On a lunch break? Just pop out and get a couple of fresh tomatoes to go with your sandwich; coming home late and shops closed? Pick a handful of runners and a few herbs to have with supper!
Transition Ashtead are hoping to inspire us to think about our food buying choices, particularly for fresh food. The ‘Where, When and How’ is it grown? To consider the real environmental costs of production, packaging and transport, and the importance of ‘growing your own’, and buying seasonal produce grown as locally as possible. With a little bit of imagination, some hard work and commitment, they hope to show we can change where we get our fresh food from, provide local jobs, help save energy and preserve the environment.
Transition Ashtead is very grateful for the practical help of the traders, particularly Emma at Sweet Lavender Flowers, The Brewery Pub and The Ashtead Village Club, who made the project possible by generously allowing the Team to fill their watering cans.