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The Alternative? Incredible Edible Beer Garden, Eagle and Child

The Eagle and Child pub is located in the village of Shuttleworth, only a short walk from Ramsbottom centre, a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Bury (Greater Manchester). Since reopening under new management in 2011, the pub underwent significant transformation. The new owner, Glen Duckett, had the idea of renovating it following an innovative and eco-friendly long-term approach. At first, Glen aimed to transform the acre of unused garden space behind the building to cultivate fruit and vegetables. This initiative had a twofold purpose: to introduce the local community to sustainable horticultural practices and, more broadly, to demonstrate the feasibility of local food production . Glen’s social enterprise also aimed to support local charities and voluntary groups, such as, for example, Incredible Edible Ramsbottom, a community group which promotes the development of local initiatives to grow, cook and source local products.

A shared vision on the sustainable production and consumption of food through the involvement of local communities was the link that facilitated cooperation between Incredible Edible Ramsbottom and Glen. Initially, the transformative work focused on the creation of a garden, named the Incredible Edible Beer Garden, where an outdoor kitchen, poly-tunnels to grow vegetables, composts, shed with living roof, fruits and ornamental beds and a mini orchard with chickens were aimed to be fitted. The Garden, however, represents only a part of a much bigger project where environmental goals mix with social priorities. Members of the community with similar aspirations can work together on planting and growing fruit and vegetables, while also learning about horticultural practices. The physical transformation of the Garden is, therefore, the symbol of an innovative sustainable form of urbanism which seeks to involve the wider community of Ramsbottom. The eco-project especially aims to reach those young members of the community who are Not in Education, Employment or Training. In the Garden and in the pub they can learn horticultural, hospitality and catering techniques which can facilitate their reintroduction to work. At the end of the five years, trainees have the possibility either to be employed by the pub or to enter other local businesses.

In essence, the Pub and Incredible Edible Ramsbottom have a twofold ambition to

Offer a great environment for people of all ages to learn new skills in horticulture and food growing […] [and offer] an opportunity to learn, meet new people and enjoy gardening in a relaxed environment.

In this spirit, they supported or organised local events such as the Incredible Edible Autumn festival (October-November) and Incredible Edible gardening projects which take place every Saturday.

An Alternative?

Glen and the members of the local community share similar ecological and socio-cultural values for urban transformation. They believe in a green and social turn which allows easier and fairer access to food and natural resources. The pub, its Garden, its owner and the community group have sought to create an alternative space to address some of the environmental and social issues which face many cities in the modern age.

The Garden encompasses a strong community dimension. It is, on the one hand, an example of physical, tangible environmental change and, on the other hand, it is an engaging social playground where cohesiveness and inclusivity are prioritised. The Garden unifies but also detaches members of the community from their daily roles and struggles. Does this space enable social differences to be abandoned in favour of a new organised form of cooperation, facilitating a harmonious interconnection between nature, society and culture?  

This is a small-scale example of how conventional systems of food production and consumption can be challenged. This clearly emerges in the pub’s website where it is stated that:

The productive gardens[…] will not only serve as a learning ground for horticultural students of all backgrounds and ages, but will be used to inspire and engage the local community to get involved in growing, cooking and eating.


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Sources: Publicly available information online. This profile has been written drawing on work carried out through the EPSRC funded ‘Urban Retrofit’ project.

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Disclaimer: The article has been put together using publicly available information and online sources as part of a larger ongoing research project. The author has no responsibility for the content or accuracy of those sites.