Staff and students at the University of Gloucestershire are working with Rockford, Illinois to create an edible show garden at the Malvern Autumn Show.Known as the city of gardens, the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB) was at the centre of a competition for the University’s students to create an edible garden inspired by Rockford.

The concepts were judged by a panel of experts from Illinois and the winning design, by Jake Poloni and Steve Mann will be featured at the Malvern Autumn Show. Their winning entry was one of five which were turned into a two minute video presentation outlining the details of their design.

Steve Mann (left) and Jake Poloni with their work.

The competition prize is the opportunity to stage a show garden within the Edible arena at Malvern Autumn Show between September 28 and 29 this year. The 15 by 15 feet show garden will be sponsored by Rockford, Illinois, The Three Counties Showground and The University of Gloucestershire.

Jake said: “Our main source of inspiration for the garden was the striking difference in the layout of the countryside around Rockford to that around where we study in England, we observed this whilst looking at aerial images of the city and its surrounding landscape.”

Steve added: “We found the variety and composition of these different patterns, tones, and textures to be an exciting concept on which to base the design, that also linked with the Edible Garden theme through the use of the land for food production. Additional research into the history of Rockford and features of the city as it is today informed the other elements incorporated into the garden.”

Judges from Rockford included Tyler Smith, President of Tyler’s Landscaping and Rockford Park District Commissioner, Tim Gruner, Curator for Anderson Japanese Gardens, and Jim Wojtowicz, Landscape Architect for Klehm Arboretum.

Mr Smith said: “I was excited to see so much creativity focused on this concept. Each design group had a unique perspective on how to best represent our great city. I applaud all of the designers for how well they researched and incorporated our history into their projects.”

Course leader Bill Burford and Senior Lecturer Allan Mitchell from the landscape architecture course will be joining fellow students in supporting Jake and Steve in the build of the show garden in September.

Bill said: “This is fantastic opportunity for these students to work with clients from the USA in the creation of a garden at the Malvern Show. Show gardens are complicated to design and build and require careful planning and organisation to procure the best quality plants and hard materials. This is a first-hand opportunity for students studying to understand the industry in which they will work, gain skills and develop a profile before they graduate. Although Landscape architects traditionally are unlikely to get their hands dirty, our course is designed to give students first-hand experience of real clients, real design sites and real issues, all of which Jake and Steve are getting in this project. We are delighted to be working with the Three Counties Showground and Rockford, Illinois in the creation of this great design.”

The British are renowned for their love of gardening, as shown by the millions of visitors to garden shows every year, said Yolanda Fletcher, Managing Director of Cellet Marketing and Public Relations. “As the RACVB UK tourist board we are tasked with developing innovative and creative ways of promoting Rockford and are very excited about this project. The Malvern Autumn Show provides a great opportunity to bring together consumers, students, experts and travel companies to showcase the fantastic garden attractions in Rockford with the intention of driving holiday bookings to the area.”

Please find an image attached of Steve Mann (left) and Jake Poloni with their work.

The winning garden entry can be viewed on YouTUbe here…

RACVB is a private, non-profit organisation established in 1984 to champion efforts to promote the Rockford Region as an overnight visitor destination. You can find out more at

About the University of Gloucestershire

The University of Gloucestershire gained official university status in 2001 but has existed as an educational establishment for nearly 200 years. Our heritage lies in the Mechanics Institutes of the 1830s, with our Francis Close Hall campus founded in 1847 as the Cheltenham Training College.

Today, we have three thriving campuses, Francis Close Hall and The Park in Cheltenham, and Oxstalls in Gloucester, which are occupied by approximately 10,000 students. In 2010, the University invested £5 million in teaching facilities including a new, state-of-the-art media and art and design studios.

The University of Gloucestershire delivers approximately 100 undergraduate course choices including accounting, law, business and management, fine art, TV production, humanities, leisure and tourism, social work and education plus and a diverse range of postgraduate and research degrees, and professional courses. For more information visit

Source: University of Gloucestershire