Grassroots community work with Incredible Edible Wilmslow

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 November 2015

Raif Salkini, Melanie Harris, Keith Carter Harris and Helen Yates

Raif Salkini, Melanie Harris, Keith Carter Harris and Helen Yates


Five years ago, Helen Yates was inspired by what she saw in Todmorden. It was in this West Yorkshire town that the original Incredible Edible project started, and she thought it was only right to bring it to Wilmslow.

Raif Salkini, Melanie Harris, Keith Carter Harris and Helen YatesRaif Salkini, Melanie Harris, Keith Carter Harris and Helen Yates

‘It was just the right moment,’ explained Helen. ‘There was a lot of community land that was uncared for within the town, so I approached the council and they were keen on the idea. I just grew from there.’

Let by a team of volunteers, Incredible Edible Wilmslow replant unloved plots in the town centre with herbs, fruit and vegetables for everyone to enjoy and pick at no cost. The aim is to reconnect passers by with what is in season and what to do with it when it’s ready for harvesting. There are now 28 plots over 11 different sites, and it has become a real community project. Wilmslow’s perimeter towns Styal and Handforth, and Waitrose in Alderley Edge have also become involved through inspiration of what the group are doing here.

‘As well the plots being attended by us, we leave watering cans by the plots so that the public can get involved,’ said Keith Carter Harris, who became a volunteer after his wife, Melanie Harris, attended the first meeting and then recruited him. The pair also volunteer at the gardens in Quarry Bank Mill. ‘We also work with businesses such as Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, whose employees help take care of the plots near to the stores. The same goes for residential plots.’

The flourishing project, the momentum from which has inspired Wilmslow to get involved in the RHS North West In Bloom competition - the town this year won gold for best large town for the second time - has everyone from local schools, the council and over 90 businesses involved. ‘Fulshaw WI has recently joined and most of the local schools use it as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award project. We also go in and lead assemblies encouraging the pupils to have a go at gardening. But we’re always crying out for more volunteers!’ added Keith.

So what’s next for the group? ‘We’re hoping on starting a sculpture trail that links up with our plots,’ said Helen. ‘There’s already an apple sculpture by Wilmslow train station and a pear down the road by the plot near to Costa Coffee. Keith was commissioned to carve the giant pear from stone. The plan is to expand it around the town.’

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