There is a unique community project taking shape in South Bristol. On November 18th, on a site previously known to residents as ‘the tip’, 232 berry plants were planted by a group of volunteers in the form of a maze. The new maze was constructed from 16 different types of fruit, ranging from blackberries to jostaberries.
The big planting was the last of a long series of meetings over several months, during which the site had been cleared and prepared. This was not a quick or easy job. Fly-tipping had previously been a regular occurrence at the site and the rubbish had piled up over the years. Shoes, wellies, cassettes, car radios, bricks, knives, forks, cables, and a multitude of car parts – all these things and more were dug out of the ground. Even before the final stages of the project had commenced, an area that had once been little more than a rubbish dump was transformed into a vibrant community area where people could gather for picnics and reconnect with nature.
The clearing of rubbish was just the first part of the project, however.
Once the rubbish had all been cleared, the maze design was laid out and the structure of wooden posts and wire was built. The design of the maze was decided on through a competition held in the local primary schools. The winning picture was by 9 year old Harry Ward, of Parson Street Primary School, and a large version of his picture has been painted onto a 8x4m slab at the center of the maze by local artist, Ollie Gillard, of Gage Graphics. It was only after all this had been done that the berries could be planted. This was done on Saturday November 18th, 2018.
— Raluca McKett (@TheBerryMaze) November 20, 2017
There are many things planned for the maze, once the fruit bushes have grown. The place will hopefully bring together local residents, offering them a space where children can play, with organised events around the year – such as treasure hunts, and harvesting days. Having such a green space within the city will allow residents to connect with nature whilst also providing them with access to the fresh fruits that will cover the walls of the maze in the summer and autumn months. Local wildlife will welcome the new habitats offered to them.
The organiser of the maze, Raluca McKett, believes that this is the only project of its kind to be found anywhere in the world, with nothing similar to be found anywhere else across the internet. It’s unique design definitely caught the attention of locals, gaining them both physical and financial assistance.
Such a project isn’t cheap, and it also faced a number of set backs along the way. A concrete block at the centre of the site was found to be in a far poorer condition than they had originally anticipated, and the work it required had threatened to bankrupt the project before it truly got underway. Fortunately, a local brickwork company, Archway, stepped in to help them with the work and to cover the costs. The money for purchasing the berry bushes and other materials then also had to be raised before they could proceed further. This was done through a crowdfunding effort that saw them flooded with support. Their target of £3,500 was smashed well ahead of schedule, with donations totalling £3,800. This allowed work to begin earlier than intended, boosting their timescale.
It is hoped that the Melago Greenway Berry Maze will be open for public use by June 2018. For further information, check out their Facebook page.