Bideford, Devon EX39
- Postcode Gardener: Lizz Dobinson
- Hosted by: Bideford Town Centre Partnership
- Get in touch by joining the Facebook group
Lizz and her team of local volunteers are creating an "edible Bideford", where residents can walk around the area and pick fruit and vegetables. They also do some pollinator planting, and run an annual seed-swap where people can bring seeds and plants to swap for free. Their area is now buzzing with more biodiversity and greener spaces for people to spend time in.
The team have rolled back the wood chip in car parks, and planted rhubarb, fruit bushes, strawberries and other edible plants.
“Children really connect with the whole gardening experience, especially when the gardens are close to their favourite play parks. They get to see the results of their hard work when they go back and pick the beans they planted earlier."
"There are loads of social benefits to community gardening. For some, gardening is a relief and a break from their reality, and others just enjoy gardening."
Meet Lizz, Postcode Gardener for Bideford
Creating an edible town
Lizz’s vision is to create an "Edible Bideford" where residents can walk around and pick up fruit and vegetables growing in public spaces.
“Although we can’t put a number on how many people are using the fruits and vegetables growing across the area, every time I walk past one of our plots, I’ve noticed someone has taken a fruit or vegetable. In our Facebook group, someone shared a picture of a meal they made with some of the vegetables they picked up on their travels. “
Bringing people together
Chris Fuller from Torridge District Council has watched the Postcode Gardener project over the last few years and has seen that it’s “about people interacting and having a sense of purpose that makes Bideford feel like their town again - it’s not just about growing veg”.
During the pandemic, after the lockdowns, they were able to run weekly gardening groups outdoors. “I think for many people, especially during such a difficult time, the group provided some normality and regularity in their lives. People felt really supported and connected to people within the community” says Lizz.
Helping children flourish
“It's not just about gardening; it's a chance for them to learn, have a blast, and feel proud of what they're achieving. Plus, being part of these community projects gives them a sense of belonging and involvement. And through gardening, children grasp the concept of patience. When they plant seeds or seedlings, they quickly realize that it takes time for those plants to grow and bear fruit or flowers. It's a valuable life lesson that extends beyond the garden”.
Lots of grey, neglected spaces are now vibrant green areas. Beds in former car park are now covered in woodchip, bursting with fruit bushes and other plants. Even parks that were green with trees and grass were fairly barren in terms of biodiversity. They now have flowers and insects, encouraging people to spend time in their local green spaces.
Protecting the natural world has been at the heart of The Co-operative Bank’s unique, customer-led Ethical Policy for over 30 years, driven by their customers’ concerns for biodiversity and the environment.
Through our partnership, we're putting Postcode Gardeners into the most nature deprived neighbourhoods, to bring back nature and bring communities together.