The allotment is the usual haunt of the green-fingered gardener, but two Cardiff-based community groups are about to change all that.
Farm Cardiff and Orchard Cardiff are leading the drive to get gardening-mad Cardiffians growing their own fruit and vegetables by mapping every potential area where food could, and does, grow. Their aim is to make Cardiff a more sustainable city by getting more food grown locally by communities.
Michele Fitzsimmons, a Farm Cardiff co-ordinator, said a lot of people in Cardiff want to get involved with green activities. She said: “There are lots of green people in Cardiff. It is frustrating sometimes because some people aren’t actively involved. What we are trying to do with Farm Cardiff is encourage people to look around them at what is available and where there is a possibility of growing food within their neighbourhood.
“The initial idea came from a potential situation arising where we need to increase the amount of food we grow locally. This is becoming more apparent with the rising amount of people going to food banks and amount of thefts from allotments and local farmers. We want to enable people to take responsibility for the production of food themselves.”
Initially Farm Cardiff has focused on mapping potential areas where food could be grown but the group is now looking into how they can persuade the council to let them use strips of land for community benefit.
Lewis Mottram, a volunteer at Farm Cardiff and the Riverside Community Garden, said there is still plenty of mapping left to do. He said: “We did a walkabout in Riverside and found about 200 growing sites in half a square mile. If you extrapolate that to the rest of Cardiff then you are looking at thousands of sites.
“It is everything from a wide bit of pavement where you can plant a tree up to big grass verges. We have chosen the best places, we haven’t been totally rigorous about it. There are places where you probably could grow stuff but we have mapped the best places for it.
“We have done all the mapping we want to in Riverside and we are moving to the next stage. In the rest of Cardiff we have mapped little bits but there is a lot more to do. We have done one walk in Riverside and one in Plasnewydd and that’s all we have done so far. There are huge areas of Cardiff untouched.”
Orchard Cardiff is another group which encourages food mapping but instead of looking at sites for the potential to grow food they map sites where fruit and nut trees already exist.
Kate Knowles, volunteer at Orchard Cardiff, thinks it is important not to waste anything which already grows within the city. She said: “We try to find anyone who has apples which they don’t need or would go to waste and we use them.
“Last year we did quite a lot of juice making and a lot of experiments with apples. Using dehydrators, drying fruit out to store it, apple juicing – we made a big apple press so we could use the apples and started making cider.
“At the moment we are doing workshops in pruning and grafting. Learning about fruit trees – how to look after them, how to propagate them. Obviously it is quite a seasonal thing because you want to be doing different things at different times of the year.”
Click here to see Orchard Cardiff's interactive map.