Planting and growing beans and potatoes has always meant a lot to us in the Gardens
We try to keep some of the really old varieties going, but we have also wanted to encourage people – especially children – to feel confident about growing their own food.
In February and March schools and family visitors have great fun planting beans and watching them grow; at home or in the Gardens. Many of these beans get planted up in our own gardens to make an annual Bean Tunnel.
Come summer the tunnel is a lush green place to crawl in, explore and peek out to the world. And what a revelation … those long green things hanging down are beans you can eat!
Everyone loves a potato. When we can, we grow some of the oldest varieties from 100 or even 300 years ago – a way of ensuring the biodiversity of our food stock is kept.
But also, potatoes are pretty easy – 1 potato planted, makes a whole plate of chips or mash!
We usually have two weekly visiting groups from special schools and colleges: Hallmoor School and Trinity Specialist college. We are missing their input and they are missing their visits to the outdoors here. Our gardeners have been looking after their plot while they’re away… potatoes and beans doing fine. Let’s hope they can harvest them later in the year.
What you can do
The bean tunnel is partially potted up, so hopefully in the summer people can see that. Why not encourage young ones in your household to plant some beans themselves. When you visit us later they can compare how tall they have grown. Beans, sunflowers and peas are relatively easy now. Here’s a great ‘how to’ from Cbeebies. https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/makes/plant-pots?collection=national-gardening-week
Even if you are not growing potatoes yourself, you can help the farmers who are.
Good and safe food starts with the growers, but many small growers are struggling to keep up in the current times. Some local organisations have banded together to help. Slow Food Birmingham, and two of groups we already work with, The Real Junk Food Project and The Active WellBeing Society, have teamed up for a great project – can you help?
The potato project
Charlie, a farmer north of the city, had a field full of spuds and no prospect of selling them because of the drop in trade in the hospitality sector.
There are 10 tonnes of potatoes
Charlie needs to dig up the potatoes and find new customers fast or let them rot and add to the growing numbers of food that is wasted, before it can be eaten. It’s also important that the growers get a decent price for their work and that the potatoes get to the most vulnerable too.
The organisations above are matching up emergency food needs and the general public. Click below to see how it works.
Buying, donating, paying forward and receiving spuds… all in one project.
If you can’t participate directly – do spread the word about what we can do to make the future of food security better.