Written by Clare Caro
It was a great surprise when visitors at the Global Birdfair started arriving at Growers Row because they had been sent over to see how it could be done.
It turns out that the garden's balance of productive growing space and the rewilded area, working in the same field together, was something that needed to be seen, something people were aiming to achieve in their work, and they were coming to see how it could be done.
Left: Productive area of the garden Right: Wild side of the garden. Both photos taken on 20th July 2022.
Growers Row is a 1.4-acre, ancient ridge and furrow field surrounded by hedges and handed over to Root-and-Branch Out by the Rutland Agricultural Society in March 2021 to create an accessible, productive, educational and beneficial growing space for the whole community.
Sixteen months into the development of Growers Row, we have a community growing space where people of all ages and abilities come to garden, build and maintain the productive side of Growers Row.
Above: A selection of images showing food that we grow together at Growers Row.
In the first year, we harvested 145kg of community-grown food. Most of the harvest went home with volunteers, while the surplus went to Rutland Community Fridges for wider community distribution.
This growing season along with the usual fruit and vegetables, the garden beds are also populated with rescue plants from local Supermarkets. Given to us nearly dead on the shelves, we revitalized nearly all, and these are now thriving. As a result, we have large colourful beds of flowers and some fruiting plants, loved by insects and visitors alike!
They say to leave a newly acquired garden for a year before making any changes. That way, you can see what is already growing there. We left a large area of Growers Row in that first year and were delighted to find Bee Orchids, naturally formed patches of Oxeye Daisy, Ragwort, Field Bindweed, Nettles, along with many different types of grasses. This wild area was also home to Ants, Wasps, Bees, Moles, Voles, and visited by Pheasants, Foxes and Muntjac.
At the end of the first Summer, work began on a large area stretching through the entire garden to be rewilded into the "Wildflower River". The River includes many of the naturally formed plant patches to ensure they stay intact. It also acts as a safe space for insects, animals and plants to live and coexist with us 'gardeners'.
Above: A selection of photos showing plants, insects and animals we share Growers Row with.
Planning and creating such a dual-purpose garden area has been an educational exercise in itself. Volunteers have been part of the planning, and many decisions have been 'organic' to meet the community's needs. Together we have made planning decisions that include people and nature, how we can work the space to be truly inclusive, sustainable and nurturing to all those who use Growers Row.
The garden also hosts groups of children, adults and families for educational activities and crafting sessions. Growers Row offers not only a rich educational space to all those who visit, it also provides a 'living curriculum'.
Growers Row is open 10am to 3pm Wednesdays, or by appointment. Visit to see the garden's balance of productive growing space and rewilded area in the same field.