Ecology & Art Talks
1: Community Gardening

30 September 2021

4.00 - 5.30pm



Talk 1: Community Gardening

Grand Union is hosting a series of online events bringing together artists, ecologists and gardeners to share interdisciplinary thinking, joining together with national networks of inspirational community projects.The first talk in the series had a focus on community led gardening, drawing from projects taking place within Birmingham. We were transported to a diverse range of gardens and growing spaces, to explore inclusive approaches to community making through nature.

Chaired by socially engaged artist Michelle Peterkin-Walker, with contributions from Jenni Fryer, Martineau Gardens, Jacob Williams, Wildlife Trust & Digbeth Community Garden, Hannah Adereti, The Growing Project and General Public.

About the Speakers

Michelle Peterkin-Walker, Akoma Arts.

Michelle is a socially engaged artist, activist and videographer based in Liverpool. Her practice combines photography and design to create digital artworks and often focuses on positive everyday images of life that take inspiration from people, places, symbols within African history and culture. Michelle has worked in her local community for over twenty years, delivering projects within Arts, Education, Housing and Community sectors. Michelle has been a board member for Granby Community Land Trust (GCLT) since 2016, supporting the Resilience Garden Project and is currently developing a new film, ‘Politics of Plants’ for Granby Winter Garden.

Granby Winter Garden Plans, a collaboration between Assemble and Granby Four Streets CLT.

Jenni Fryer CEO of Martineau Gardens

Martineau Gardens is a valued and much-loved, organically- maintained Community Garden and charity close to Birmingham city centre, providing a safe and welcoming space for some of the most vulnerable people in the community. It is maintained and developed by people who volunteer on the Martineau Gardens therapeutic horticulture programme, many of whom live with enduring mental health problems, learning difficulties, brain injuries, physical disability and neurological conditions. Environmental Education, social inclusion, sustainability and integrity are key drivers for the work of Martineau Gardens.

Weeding flower beds in August at Martineau Gardens.

Hannah Adereti, Grand Union, The Growing Project

Hannah Adereti is a Non-Binary academic and artist of Jamaican and Nigerian heritage. Born in the UK and moved to Jamaica at 12, they spent their formative years there which inherently shaped their artistic practice and research. This centres Black identities, queerness, alternative ethnography, radio, photography, documentary film making and archiving.

In their role as Curatorial Fellow at Grand Union, Hannah has been programming weekly sessions with artists and creative practitioners to foster a connection between plants and people at the Minerva Garden, part of the Growing Project. Led by women, the growing space will offer safe opportunities for women to come together, to develop knowledge around growing and healing practices in the city centre.

The Minerva Apothecary Garden in its early stages, The Growing Project, 2021.

Liz Rowe and Chris Poolman, General Public

General Public is the collaborative platform of artists Chris Poolman & Elizabeth Rowe. Broadly speaking, they devise large scale public art projects that incorporate elements of fiction, myth-making, local history re-invention and heritage rebooting. They are currently developing a number of projects on allotments in Birmingham including the Heritage Fund supported ‘Whole Lotta Culture’ that explores allotment culture in Birmingham from the 1960s to the present day and working with Incredible Surplus, developing their growing sites at Londonderry, Smethwick and Dads Lane, Moseley.* A harvest is made every Thursday morning at both sites, with the fresh fruit and vegetables, being distributed less than an hour later at the Sharehouse, Winson Green. 

* Originally established in 2014 as The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham, we intercept food and other usable materials that would otherwise go to waste from supermarkets, restaurants and other sources, and provide them to individuals and community organisations on a “Pay-As-You-Feel” basis.

Allotment, Whole Lotta Culture, project led by General Public.

Jacob Williams, Wildlife Trust and Digbeth Community Garden

Jacob Williams is community engagement officer for the Wildlife Trust across Birmingham & The Black Country, as well as a long standing volunteer for the Digbeth Community Garden, a green space in the center of Birmingham for food growing, wildlife and art events. Jacob’s work introduces people to wildlife gardening and approaches to encouraging wildlife into gardens, cities and community spaces.

Digbeth Community Garden