START in Salford is a charity geared towards improving health and wellbeing in the local area.
Their site at Buile Hill Park has had a new lease of life, with funding allowing horticultural projects, manned by the community, to spring up. Adam Lewis met with horticultural co-ordinator Sue Jefferies to check out the site.
A hazel coppice swaying in the breeze, fledgling apple trees yet to bear fruit and a tall wooden skeleton of what will soon be a shelter acting as the centrepiece. As yet the small area in Buile Hill Park is still to blossom, but thanks to recent funding by The Veolia Environmental Trust, Sue Jefferies, along with a whole host of volunteers, is already reaping the rewards, namely the joys of gardening.
“The idea is for local people to get ownership,” says Jefferies, who has been working with Start in Salford for the past year, teaching gardening classes and guiding the site into fruition.
Differing from allotments in that there is guidance and the plots are smaller, the project is perfect for beginners.
The enterprise at the Seedley Park bowling green aims to include the most vulnerable in the community as part of the Start Growing Scheme.
Three newly built raised beds are ideal for wheelchair bound gardeners, and the ample space between the beds, in addition to the level paths soon to be built, will provide ease of access around the site.
Start in Salford was granted the former bowling green at Buile Hill Park in 2011. Gradual development followed with several gardening beds added.
Thanks to a funding injection from The Veolia Environmental Trust of £22,520, Start and the local community have been able to help the small area take off this year.
Jefferies insists they cater for everyone, adding: “We have a big age range, some are retired. Working people come down at weekends, they’re only small beds so they’re able to do that.
“They’re ideal for popping down once a week.”
Bob, a volunteer, praised the project and said: “It’s very social. I’ve learnt 100 per cent more with Sue than I would have.”
The former bowling green with its good drainage, well maintained soil and openness to sunlight, provides good growing conditions.
The only problem is wind, but the hazel coppice planted on the banking is in a bid for it to grow quickly to ultimately provide protection.
As well as the hazel, there is a plethora of plants holding great promise for the summer. Apple trees draw the eye at first, slanted to make the most of the space and allow picking the fruit far easier.
An area for herbs along with a bog garden, dug out much like a pond with a plastic sheet covered with soil, allows water loving plants to flourish. Willow in the corner stands to attention, with plans to use the services of the tactile wood to make baskets.
The individual owners of the beds have freedom to use them as they please, many opting for vegetables.
Most of the beds are well maintained, with one owner taking particular care with arrow straight lines of sprouting vegetables.
There is certainly pride in the work done here.
Preparations for the summer were on. A triangle of turf removed to make way for wild flowers, which Sue hopes will encourage those passing to take a seat and enjoy the project as well as attracting the pollinators – vital to the ecosystem.
Shrubs and bushes will also be planted around the perimeter with hopes of encouraging wildlife to flourish, particularly small birds.
Uncertainty at Buile Hill Park
With recent funding cuts to local councils, local parks are at risk. The Georgian mansion at the heart of Buile Hill Park was on the brink of being sold to a hotel chain last year, but with plans falling through, the grade II listed building is still up for sale.
Sue says that “losing our parks would be a real tragedy,” as she works tirelessly in helping to safeguard them for the future.
An open day on the 7th May will allow the public to see Start’s progress as well as encouraging engagement with the park. Seed sowing, wildflower and tree spotting, as well as craft activities fit for all ages will be going ahead.
The project has become a huge success and, with a waiting list for available beds forming, Sue admitted that, when looking across at a croquet ground across from the garden, it’s hard to refrain from thinking about outing the croquet club and expanding…