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Hough Lane Community Garden

Hough Lane Community Garden is set on the site of a previously neglected piece of land in Bromley Cross to the north of Bolton. The community garden project started in July 2012 with a process of clearing the land and planting that included potatoes, leeks, onions, beans, herbs and perennial flowers.

On its own the project appears to be ‘just another’ community garden. Yet, Hough Lane was the first project of Incredible Edible Bromley Cross (IEBC). This is a small volunteer group (of around 15 or so people) that covers Bromley Cross and surrounding areas, a relatively affluent area of Bolton.

The aim of bringing together community organization and volunteering with local food growing and the local circulation of this food to local people and businesses is not new. In its most recent manifestation, the Bromley Cross group has taken its inspiration from the ways in which Incredible Edible Todmorden has made effective connections between  local volunteer organization, use of local land and local food production and exchange.    

2012 was spent setting the IEBC group up and starting a small number of projects on local plots of land – of which Hough Lane was one. Through 2013 the aim was to utilize these plots of land to grow – literally and metaphorically – fruit and vegetables and also the number of local volunteers and local support and awareness of the group and its work. The group is a collection of volunteers and operates using small pots of money.

The group has regular social and working meetings. These have included Saturday morning gatherings at the Hough Lane Community Garden, at the village hall and at the Last Drop Polytunnel and Raised Beds on the site of a local hotel, and Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning community garden growing sessions at a local school. The monthly meeting of the group is an evening meeting in a local pub.

In addition to its regular meetings and workdays the group also held a free community event in autumn 2013 as part of its first birthday celebrations. The event was organized to involve a range of local food producers, children’s cooking sessions, sessions on learning about bees and also about keeping chickens. Experts were also on hand to offer advice for food growers.


An Alternative?


Incredible Edible Bromley Cross is one very local illustration of a group of volunteers seeking to influence local food growing. It is a pertinent example in itself but what is particularly interesting is that there are further Incredible Edible initiatives in the UK and others internationally. The Bromley Cross initiative is part of a much larger movement that is manifest in Incredible Edible initiatives in Greater Manchester from Heaton Moor to Leigh and from Moss Side to Tottington.

Outside of the specific Incredible Edible movement there has also been a large growth in community gardens in Greater Manchester from Oldham to Moss Side and from Old Trafford to Openshaw. There is a sense that the rising numbers of these groups have the potential to add up to more than the small patches of land that they often individually operate on. They also contribute to a growing sense of re-localisation movements generally that encompass food but also local energy generation and efforts to initiate a transition away from fossil-based fuels.

A note from Incredible Edible Bromley Cross, August 2014: 

We are always looking for volunteers, and we welcome anyone and everyone.  People don't need any specific skills, and they can help out in whatever way they would like (gardening, IT, helping to promote shopping locally, art projects etc.)  Currently, we are planning a mural on the wall of the Hough Lane garden, designs are in the process of being being drawn up.


This article is published here as part of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform’s aspiration to raise the visibility of different community innovations, grassroots projects and activities in the city-region.

It also draws on SURF's involvement in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant, 'Retrofit 2050' and contributes to understanding of the Remaking of the Material Fabric of the City.

Find out here about the background, purpose and content of ‘The Alternative?’ series of articles on Platform.