Using outdoor spaces to bring people together; it’s what we do at Pennine Lancashire Community Farm, so community garden spaces are essential to our work. We operate eight sites across Lancashire, places where people take part in outdoor activities such as gardening, conservation, landscaping and natural crafts. A number of these sites are well established, some are still being created. One of the gardens that is currently being developed is at Stoops and Hargher Clough community centre. The space we are developing is part of the larger recreation ground, off Cog Lane and Harold Street, and is close to the community centre.
Stoops and Hargher Clough community centre, the story so far…
At the end of last year we held consultation sessions, with an aim of producing a plan that would fit the needs and wishes of the community. The first session local residents voiced their hopes and fears for the garden. Next we visited some other local projects to gather ideas and meet the staff and volunteers there. Finally, children and adults took part in creating vision boards for a large display that was put up in the community centre. A vision board is essentially a collage that reflects the wishes of the individual. With a stash of old gardening magazines, card and scissors the group made a colourful display that highlighted the things they would like to see in their garden.
The results of our consultations helped us to shape the design for the garden. It was agreed that the garden should be:
- Productive, providing food for local people and events at the community centre.
- Nature friendly, using native species and creating habitats for wildlife
- Robust enough to withstand any vandalism
These themes complement each other which made it fairly straightforward to draw up a suitable design. The final design includes a ‘dead hedge’ around the perimeter, a native hedgerow, an orchard, fruit bushes, eight raised beds and herb rockery.
Elements of the design
A dead hedge is a barrier constructed from dead natural wood. Dead hedges are often used as a method of conservation on sites such as nature reserves and parks. They provide both a physical barrier and a habitat for wildlife. The dead hedge will span the perimeter of the garden with an aim to provide shelter for the garden and discourage dogs from running and toileting on the food growing space.
Bramble will be planted all along the dead hedge and will climb over it as it grows through spring and summer. It’s thorns will give the dead hedge a defensive element and hopefully discourage any vandalism. Also it will provide flowers for the local bee population and plenty of juicy blackberries for picking in late summer. Over the years the dead hedge will become a living barrier with plants growing in and around it and wildlife using it for shelter and as a food source.
The native hedgerow will be part of the bigger scheme for the whole recreation ground. Native species such as Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Dog Rose will form a hedgerow around the site including the back edge of the community garden. Native hedgerows provide a great habitat for wildlife and can also become a formidable barrier over time.
The orchard is planned to include apple, pear, cherry and plum trees alongside currant bushes, strawberries and a rhubarb patch. The fruit harvested can be used to make jams, pies and chutneys.
Raised beds will be used to teach volunteers about growing vegetables and will provide food to be shared and used when catering for events in the community centre. The herb rockery will provide plenty of seasoning for cooking with and will add a sensory element with its variety of aromas.
With the plan in place work has started on the garden. We recruited the help of local children who were attending the Fit and Fed holiday club at the community centre who have so far have
- Planted up 12 fruit trees in the orchard
- Planted over 1,500 native trees around the perimeter of the recreation ground, with help from our volunteers and Burnley Council.
- Carried out a full site litter pick.
The dead hedge is almost complete and is already acting as a barrier for litter entering the garden area.
To be continued…
We are looking for volunteers who want to get involved with creating and maintaining the garden. Over the coming weeks we will be working to install the raised beds, plant the fruit bushes and create the herb rockery.
If you are interested in helping out please contact Tom on 01282 421690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.