TUCKED away in a corner of a town centre pub is a small group of people who are preparing the ground for a revolution in Swindon.

Over the past three years this dedicated bunch have been meeting up to discuss how to sow seeds of dissent against grey and soulless streets.

Plant by plant, and raised bed by raised bed, their plans to increase the amount of food that’s both grown and eaten in the town are gradually taking root in the minds of residents.

Swindon’s ‘Incredible Edible’ revolution began three years ago after Anna Komar and Kathryn Hay heard a talk from Pam Warhurst, the inspirational founder of a similar group in the Yorkshire town of Todmorden.

Soon afterwards they started talking to their friends about the concept of planting fruit, vegetables and herbs in public places, for people to both look at and eat, and their enthusiasm soon rubbed off on others.

Among their first targets was The Central Community Centre, around which they started building raised beds with the help of craftsmen Ed Frankis and Alan Priday in the summer of 2015, before returning the following year to plant herbs, vegetables and flowers, including a stunning display of sunflowers.

“We thought CCC would be the perfect place to start, especially as it was the medical fund hospital for the Great Western Railway Works,” said Incredible Edible Swindon member Amanda Adams.

“We worked with the Mechanics’ Institute, which runs the centre, to make it happen.

“We all thought it was a great way to get residents more interested in the community centre itself; it was a good way of having conversations with people.

“We grew courgettes, sweetcorn and salad such as rocket, and peas.

“Basically the idea was to try and plant things people might recognise. By the second year people realised they could take things.

“It’s been so successful that we will be doing it again this year.”

Alongside the work at CCC, the team began sharing their passion for gardening with people living in the Railway Village by securing a REFRESH grant from Swindon Borough Council to pay for bags of compost for growing beans, cucumbers, courgettes and sweetcorn – a British take on the ‘Three Sisters’ cultivation system practised by native Americans in the USA.

Residents were invited to the CCC to pick up their part-grown plants and the compost, along with advice on how to look after them, which was provided over a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Since then the group has worked with Swindon Allotment Society to hold a seed swap that attracted about 50 people.

Other parts of Swindon to come under the the Incredible Edible team include Toothill Farmhouse, which received a £500 grant and help from volunteers to help clear the site, replace fences and gates and plant fruit and vegetables.

Children at the local youth club also got involved.

Meanwhile, planters in car parks in Grange Park, Toothill and other parts of West Swindon have been given an overhaul, with residents helping to fill them with flowers, vegetables and herbs.

Incredible Edible is already making a difference, but its members say its achievements are only the start of what they hope will become a thriving movement in Swindon.

“It’s about the power of small actions,” said Kathryn.

“We want to enhance Swindon’s public spaces by growing food and other edibles, while providing opportunities and empowering local people to grow their own food.

“We’re going into uncared for and unloved parts of the town and growing things there, and the knock on effect is that were now being contacted by some of the local villages who are interested in doing things.

“Sometimes it feels as though people are afraid to do things themselves. We can help them talk to their local councils and look at ways to get funding or give advice.”

Kathryn first got involved in community gardening when she joined Swindon’s Secret Garden at Queen’s Park in 2012, at which time she said her horticultural experience amounted to “a handful of partially ripe tomatoes and a dead cactus.”

For Anna, Incredible Edible is about helping people understand where food comes from, encouraging a greater respect for it and ultimately reducing what’s wasted.

“I also want to give everyone the opportunity to grow, to be creative and to be part of a community,” she said.

Lisa Mullan’s gardening ambitions were already depriving her children of their back lawn when she came across an advert for Incredible Edible.

“It was time to leave them some grass and join a UK-wide operation to provide vegetables for all,” said the mum, who is particularly active in West Swindon.

David Sparks splits his spare time between Incredible Edible and volunteering his horticultural skills at the walled garden at Lydiard House.

“I get a buzz from working with other people in gardens and seeing an end result,” said David, who has a background in information technology.

“I enjoy passing skills on and showing people how they can grow their own food.”

Amanda has been involved with Incredible Edible Swindon since the early days and is thrilled that it’s a movement that welcomes gardeners and people with little in the way of horticultural skills alike.

“I don’t have much growing experience – I just like the idea of growing and sharing food that’s accessible for all,” says Amanda, who works as an archaeologist.

“It’s great that we have Lisa and David on board with their growing skills and expertise.

“Kathryn and I are more experts in the social side of things, bringing communities together.

“It’s not just about food. It’s about bringing people out of their houses and talking to their neighbours.

“We hope we have created something that’s sustainable and will attract others as time goes on. We’re always open to new ideas.

“We’ve been going for three years and we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved so far. We’ve all got jobs and some are juggling families, so we’re doing what we can and having a great time doing it.”

Incredible Edible meetings are held at The Glue Pot, in Swindon’s Railway Village, on the third Wednesday every month from 6pm. Visit www.edibleswindon.co.uk.