Meet the Team- Bryony

Hello, I’m Bryony. After an early career in marketing, communications and the third sector, I’ve recently started studying a PGDE in English secondary teaching.

Having grown up in rural Aberdeenshire, I’ve always been quite interested in farming and our complex food system, and am excited to be able to work with Cultivate Aberdeen to increase access to nutritious food in the Granite City through growing, increasing sustainability, education and community development.

I can normally be found in some form of a patterned trouser. I love running, yoga, cooking and reading a good book. I own more pieces of art from local makers and fayres than I have space on my walls, and my flat is fit to bust with vintage pieces and second-hand knick-knacks. I’m a bit of a magpie for anything bright and colourful, and flavours in cooking which are bold and spicy. I love sunflowers and my favourite colour is green.

I really struggled with food when I was younger. I was fussy, uninterested and generally pretty content to live off white bread. I took me until I was in my late-teens and early twenties to truly understand the joy that can be found in food, and particularly in food growing.

I come from family of committed, if not rather rambunctious, gardeners. My granda, my dad’s dad, has had three great loves in his life: my granny, pansies and raspberries. When I was young and we would visit my grandparents on weekends, my granda would often be outside, knees to the earth, weeding among front garden, tending to the pansy border. A sea of soft lilac and blushing pink, so beautiful remembered now that it takes my breath away.

From time to time, my granda would get up, wink at me, take my child’s hand and lead me to the back – grass and metres of brown, dank earth. In summer, there’d be green potatoes shaws shooting, pea pods climbing through a wire netting and, hidden away from street view, raspberries. He’d pull a few, and lay them out flat on his hand for me to take. I’d guzzle them down, devouring the tart, sweet fruit, and run away, back to whatever game I’d been playing.

My dad too now grows food, a hobby he has cultivated over the years, both from a place of enjoyment and necessity. Like many working families, we often struggled to make ends meet – I am one of three children, and to use my granny’s word, we’re all gannets. Growing our own potatoes, onions and carrots allowed us to have nutritious food throughout the seasons, but more so allowed us to enjoy good food cheaply. Over the years, I watched my Dad turn over earth time and time again, check the gooseberries for fly and pests and stood at my granny and my mum’s elbow as they made jam, compotes, fruit fools and elaborate pavlovas, which were later shared around the table.

I realise now, in my late twenties, with all past fussiness disappeared, why food growing, cooking and eating was so important to my family. It was, I think, more than an essential utility, but something that brought us together meaningfully, allowing us time to share,  pause and reflect.

Now, when I’m at my parents, and my dad is in the garden, I will often make a cup of tea and wander bare-foot across the grass to our raised beds. I’ll climb onto the reclaimed railway sleepers and curse that bit of creosote and oil that always sticks to my foot, and my Dad will look up and smile. We’ll sit and drink our tea in contented silence, and look out across the garden and the farmers’ fields ahead  – sometimes there will be calves clinging closely to their mothers, other times the park will be empty, resting, rejuvenating, ready for spring – and I will think about how wonderful it is that this garden and our family love of raspberries nourishes and connects us, and how lucky I was to grow up surrounded by such unconditional love and growth.