It’s more than a community garden
After the initial meetings, and chatting with members of the Cinderhills community, the project hit a stumbling block. Like many things, the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the project and, like lots of others, many of the group were shielding. This meant we were no longer able to meet in person. After such a strong start to the project, we didn’t want to lose momentum.
All still eager to continue, we arranged to meet in the park – a safe, outdoor space where we could connect with the community. It was the perfect solution to let our creativity and ideas flow.
Surrounded by the environment we longed to develop, we started making plans for what we could plant and grow. We talked about the organisations we thought could benefit and would like to be involved. Eden’s Forest, a community interest company that focuses on the benefits of the outdoors to our mental health and wellbeing, applied for funding through Thriving Kirklees. I supported the newly formed Friends of Cinderhills Park group to apply for funds from The Bright Green Trust and Central Co-op England. This was in support of a community engagement project to build raised beds and an outdoor classroom and kitchen for workshops.
A project with roots that start at home, Grow to School, who deliver outdoor learning, gave grow packs to local residents. An initiative to encourage people to start growing produce at home and then move them to the community garden. Not only are they transferring their seedlings, but also sharing their skills and knowledge with others.
The ripple effect of a community project
The development of the park all started following conversations with local community members. From those conversation grew a desire to improve the local area, and from that, it was clear that there was more that could be done, not only at the park.
As the project grew, so did our links with the community. Using the local Methodist church and promoted via local schools, Crosland Moor Learning Centre delivered a food hygiene course. Increasing opportunities for people to access training and employment and for people to take ownership of their community café. Many of those that took part in the course had identified as having health and wellbeing concerns.
Friends of Cliffe Park and Kirklees Housing and Neighbourhoods came along to support and advise the group. Officers from Kirklees Council Parks helped map out the groups ideas and the church committee were helping raise funds through planned events. GP surgeries started to suggest it to patients feeling isolated as a way to connect.