Get growing in Liverpool: Community gardening projects
With the weather improving and the prospect of more daylight hours to savour, it’s time to get your green fingers into gear and start preparing the garden for the season ahead.
Not everyone has a green space to call their own, but here in Liverpool there are plenty of blooming marvellous community projects you can get involved with. YM Liverpool has rounded up some of the best.
Words by Mark Langshaw
Cultivating a Community
The season of being holed up indoors will soon be a distant memory so it’s time to embrace nature and the benefits a greener way of life can offer.
Having your own backyard is all well and good, but this isn’t a prerequisite to getting your gardening on as projects to make the city region greener rely on volunteers.
Bluegreen Liverpool is a community group dedicated to bringing vacant space in the city centre back into use through gardening initiatives and it recently embarked on an ambitious project.
Backed by Tesco ‘Bags for Help’ funding, the organisation is creating a green walking corridor between the foodie-centric Bold Street and the Baltic Triangle, complete with community growing spaces, and is appealing for the public to lend a hand.
Five of these horticultural spaces are in the late planning phase, but there are immediate opportunities to help Bluegreen plant apple and pear trees at two sites in the city centre.
The organisation also welcomes input from anyone with ideas for transforming vacant grass verges, wasteland and other unused space via growing initiatives.
“If somebody sees wasteland and unused public land between Bold Street and the Baltic Triangle and they have an idea to transform it, we can help,” says Elaine Cresswell, project manager at Bluegreen. “We have the funding to make it happen.
“At the moment we’ve got a couple of sites where we need volunteers to help us plant apple and pear trees. One of them is off Pitt Street and the other is on Jamaica Street.”
In addition Bluegreen is supporting a number of other ventures including the upcoming Growing Up in Chinatown project, which aims to create a growing space for Oriental vegetables in the heart of Europe’s oldest Chinese community; and Baltic Creative’s plans to add public green space to the Baltic Triangle.
These initiatives will require volunteer assistance once they gain momentum and people can now register their interest with Elaine.
Bluegreen is also searching for volunteers to help out in the community garden at dry bar The Brink, where members of the recovery community can learn how to grow vegetables, fruit and flowers; and enjoy the therapeutic benefits these activities provide.
“There are multiple benefits of community gardening initiatives, from health and wellbeing to getting closer to nature,” says Elaine. “One reason I’m keen to work with groups across a neighbourhood rather than a single site is because people can socialise and meet their neighbours.
“This multi-site approach also helps improve the community as a whole and empowers those who take part, especially if the project was their idea to begin with.”
To get involved contact Elaine at email@example.com.
Muck in for Charity
Beyond the city centre public horticultural initiatives are bearing fruit, like Kirkdale charity Rotunda’s community garden.
The organisation has big plans to extend its green space to the front of its headquarters – a Grade II-listed building in the L5 area – and wants members of the public to join in.
As an AQA-accredited operation, Rotunda also provides training opportunities for those seeking cultivation skills and is offering immediate volunteer work through its Blooming Kirkdale project, an initiative to greenify the area’s ‘grot spots’.
“Blooming Kirkdale is all about engaging our residents and reducing social isolation,” says Rotunda CEO Maxine Ennis. “It’s basically a health and wellbeing initiative but it’s all about growing, beautifying and bringing colour and life back into a particular area that needs some TLC.
“This is a strategic initiative and we welcome volunteers from the community to help us promote it as an opportunity for people young and old. The more the merrier as far as we’re concerned.”
For more information log onto www.therotunda.org.uk.
Find the Plot
Another way to colour your life greener is by contacting one of the Liverpool City Region’s local authorities to enquire about renting allotment space.
Allotments are located across the region and typically cost between £43 and £52 per year for a full plot with concessions for over 60s, plus a subscription fee for the local allotment society.
However, encountering a waiting list is not uncommon as allotments are in high demand. In Knowsley, for instance, it can take up to 17 months for space to become available while in sought-after South Liverpool the wait can be as long as three years.
No doubt aware of these obstacles, Sefton Council runs a community allotment project in conjunction with national charity TCV called Sefton Green Gym.
Not as physically demanding as the name suggests, this initiative at the Queensway Allotments in Crosby holds sessions every Thursday and all are welcome to swing by and pitch in with organic fruit and vegetable cultivation and meet new people.
Sefton Green Gym boasts a diverse membership, from young people with learning difficulties to older and retired folk, as well as jobseekers and those from various ethnic communities.
For more information visit www.seftongreengym.co.uk.
“There are multiple benefits of community gardening initiatives, from health and wellbeing to getting closer to nature.”
Get a Station Garden on Track
A short train journey from the city centre lies Edge Hill Station. It’s the oldest active passenger railway terminal in the world and is now shaping up to be one of the greenest.
Arts organisation Metal is planning a year-long programme of art, food and gardening to engage local residents to create an “oasis of calm” at this historic location.
With the help of the local community, Metal has transformed a derelict part of the station into the Edge Hill Station Garden and the group has launched a fresh appeal for volunteers to assist during the upcoming spring planting season.
The arts venue is also hosting dinner events throughout the year for the local community and school groups to drive awareness of environmental sustainability and explore the importance of public green spaces and how they benefit our day-to-day lives.
To get involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org.