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Production team | 13:52 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009

Alys FowlerI seem to spend most of my time wondering where my next batch of compost is coming from, whether it will get to the right house (I'm not entirely sure there's not someone in my neighbourhood that got a surprise bag or so) and whether there'll be enough.

You see for the last couple of weekends I've been busy in other peoples' gardens working on a garden exchange scheme called Grofun (it stands for Growing Real Organic Food in Urban Neighbourhoods).
Grofun was set up by the lovely Nadia Hillman in Bristol several years ago. It works a little like a Local Exchange & Time-Trading Scheme - otherwise known as LETTS. You donate 10 hours in the community chest and in return you get a bunch of volunteers to come round and help you get your garden ready for growing veg. Or put another way 'many hands make light work'.
Each weekend through April and May the team moves around from one garden to the next. So far we've tackled a very overgrown back garden and created a square, raised bed, made-over a sunny front garden to house a small, rectangular bed for potatoes and salads, and this weekend are about to create some containers for a patio. And then on and on until the end of May when we'll have hopefully transformed 11 or so gardens. There's one other element to the scheme which is that everyone has to share some of their produce with the rest of the gang (in our case we're going to throw at least one big barbeque and have a right proper shindig). But this also means that the people who got their garden done first have grown produce that those at the end of May can't grow, such as potatoes, which is neat.
The thing that's got everyone so excited is that gardening in a gang is a lot of fun. I have scant knowledge of what the gardens look like before we get there. You just have to get on with it and there's always a funny collective moment when everyone's debating a design or where the compost bin should go and so far some stellar pot-luck lunches.
There are also masterclasses that run throughout the summer. I've got to get my act together as I want to do one on sowing next week. I say masterclasses but it's more like 'bring nibbles, bring drinks and some seeds that you're not sure how to sow'- it's more of a get-together than a class. My garden's a little cramped for 15 or so people so I've found some willing volunteers to donate their gardens for the classes. In return they get some veggie goodies and a lot of people learning how to sow or dig on their patch. I get a great thrill walking around my bit of the world thinking, 'I know behind that house someone's growing something good to eat.'
Anyhow, like I said, I need to rally the troops, organise another compost drop, weed the guerrilla patch before it becomes an embarrassment and sow some rocket.
If you want to find out more about Grofun go to www.grofun.org.uk
Or check out Nadia's lovely film on YouTube.

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