Nant y Bedd Gardens
Homegrown veg could change the way we eat and shop, according to a local gardener
Most of the fruit and veg we eat in Crickhowell is imported either from abroad or across the UK. We buy from supermarkets, restaurants or shops whose stock is supplied by wholesalers, who transport food from places where veg is grown on an industrial scale. But is it the best way to get our five a day? A local couple are urging us to ‘get into growing’ for a tastier, healthier, more environmentally healthy experience.
“People lead busy lives,” says gardener Sue Mabberley, “so it’s convenient to go to the supermarket. But once people start growing some of what they eat, they soon come to realise how much fresher and tastier and more nutritious homegrown veg is. And growing doesn’t have to take over their whole life, it can adapt to the time they have available; they can start with growing a few lettuces in a pot on a window sill and take it as far as you want.”
Sue and her husband, Ian, run Nant y Bedd Garden in Fforest Coal Pit, 6 miles as the crow flies from Crickhowell, 10 miles by road. They are an RHS Partner Garden, the only one in the Brecon Beacons. They have spent much of their lives working in and around the National Park – she was Head Warden, he worked to promote sustainable agriculture. They now run Nant y Bedd to organic standards and offer workshops to those who want to find out how to grow their own.
Visit Nant y Bedd Garden, and you will be entertained by the cats and slug-eating ducks, and you may get to see the woodpecker feeding from the bird table. In the 6.5 acres of garden and woodland, which is surrounded by forest, you will see beds in which hearty vegetables grow amongst complementary flowers and learn about organic no-dig gardening and natural composting from Sue.
“Homegrown vegetables are much fresher and more nutritious than what’s in the supermarket,” Sue says. “Supermarket salad, for instance, doesn’t look fresh when you buy it, and within a couple of days, it’s in the bin. You pick up a bag of spinach, and you think we are getting all the iron and minerals you need, but the nutritional value of what can be grown or foraged from our garden is much higher.” Ian agrees: “Veg bought in the supermarket or from a shop supplied by a wholesaler has probably come from many miles away and by comparison it doesn’t taste of anything, If you grow your own or buy very, very fresh, very locally, you will get so much extra taste.”
And Ian believes there needs to be a cultural shift in the way we eat veg. We need to eat seasonally; sourcing ingredients when they are readily available in this country. And he believes that consumer pressure could persuade the shops to stock more local food: “People are much more aware of food miles and the carbon footprint of what we eat. Once they start eating fresher food, they are going to start asking questions about why the food they are buying from the supermarket or that has been shipped in by a wholesaler doesn’t taste as good. Then we will see consumer pressure on our shops to change what they have on their shelves.”
If you want to find out more about gardening or go on one of Sue’s workshops you can find out more information on the Nant y Bedd website.
Nant y Bedd Gardens is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Check their website for further updates.
Article and photograph by Tim Jones, As You See It Media