4 July 2021 | by Karen Hall
June was a perfect month for outdoor meeting, generating ideas and networking as plans for the Growing Project at the Downs are gaining momentum and support.
Lewes District Council agreed with the contractors to let the grass around the edge of the playing fields and car parks grow longer and see what plants come up and with this year’s summer rain the vegetation was really lush. It turned out to be just a brief reprieve but for a lovely moment the variety of different grasses was a delight.
As part of the research phase for The Growing Project at the Downs we had a visit last week from fruit tree expert, Peter May to investigate the suitability of the proposed site for fruit growing. We’re beginning to understand better the conditions and scale of what’s possible. Digging down into the ground revealed soil that is well-drained, aerated, crumbly, a deep and silty loam with earthworms at work – a great basis!
‘Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.’ Hal Borland
R&D for the growing project at the Downs will inform our proposal to LDC and underpin future funding applications and we are listening to local specialists and experts in horticulture, ecology, tree planting and fruit growing, naturalising meadow grasses and wildflowers and finding common ground with local groups with whom we look forward to bringing the project to life!
We also visited the community orchard at the Big Park in Peacehaven and gained some insights into the highs and lows of planting an orchard and of the perseverance and resilience of a nearby community facing the climate challenges of an exposed site. Since the project began over 48 different species of wildflowers have naturally made their home here. Visits to other community orchards and food growing projects are planned.
We are on an exciting learning curve and really welcome newcomers to join us on this journey to help shape the project. There are various ways that you can follow this process or get involved:
FoSD have produced an information flyer for widening community engagement and look forward to these forthcoming events:
” I am really pleased to see that local residents are putting these plans into action. Working together, having fun and Growing food for the community to share as well as planting trees for the future are just what we need. As a District Councillor for Seaford South and this year’s Chair (with a theme of promoting food security) I will be doing all I can to help this project to succeed. ” Christine Brett