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Transforming underused Grimsby car park spaces into new urban orchard and community garden

2:49 pm, Monday, 13th February 2023 - 1 year ago

Environment and community safety
  • Grimsby voluntary groups are benefitting from the Government’s Levelling Up Parks fund to create a new community garden and enhance land next to an existing playground
  • Fresh produce from the community garden will help supply food banks and a training kitchen
  • Community gardeners will grow fruit, root vegetables, salads, soft fruits and herbs
  • Volunteers and supplies needed to help prepare and plant the garden

Community groups are taking a grassroots approach to bring fresh produce to a Grimsby neighbourhood in the drive against rapidly rising food prices.

Groups in the town’s East Marsh community are coming together and are set to create a new urban orchard and garden that will feed and educate local people as well as serving as a new communal green space.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities gave North East Lincolnshire Council an £85,000 grant to create new urban green space or refurbish existing parks.

Thanks to the funding, the Council will plant trees at the Albion Street Playground and community groups are set to create the new community garden on part of the underused Garibaldi Street car park.

Mary Vickers, Community Food Co-ordinator in North East Lincolnshire, is working with The Salvation Army, St Andrew’s Church, the Rock Foundation, the Fisherman’s Mission and other local community groups to set up the new garden.

Planting areas, raised beds, pathways and fencing will be in place by the end of March.

North East Lincolnshire Council is planting 35 fruit trees in the community garden and a selection of other trees on land next to Albion Street playground. 

As well as fruit trees, the community garden team plan on planting bushes for soft fruits, potatoes, carrots, salad, herbs and brassicas, such as cauliflower and cabbage.

Encouraging people to grow, prepare and cook their own food is one of the main drivers behind the project.

The Salvation Army building, opposite the car park, has a new community training kitchen where there are facilities to teach people cooking skills.

Food grown in the community garden will provide a steady supply of produce for the local community and the kitchen as well as local food banks and other community food providers.

This will give people the opportunity to plant, grow, pick, and cook their own food all within a few metres of the garden – and maybe occasionally eat together too.

Cllr Stewart Swinburn, portfolio holder for environment and transport at North East Lincolnshire Council, added:

“By transforming part of this underused car park into a vibrant, community garden, the groups involved can create a new, much-needed green space.

“This project was earmarked for funding by the government because of the lack of greenery in the area and the levels of deprivation.

“From improving physical and mental wellbeing to providing an educational activity and a source of fresh produce, the new community garden is hugely beneficial for people in the area.”

Mary Vickers, Community Food Co-ordinator in North East Lincolnshire, explains:

“Part of my work as Community Food Co-ordinator is to help our variety of local community food providers (food banks and hot food kitchens) to work together and collaborate as often as they can.  Another important aspect of my role is to encourage and support projects which help individuals and communities to move away from reliance on free food parcels.  This exciting project works with both aims at the same time.

“Providing an opportunity for people to learn to grow at least some of their own food is immensely valuable.  Simply working together in the open air is known to increase wellbeing.  Adding this to the provision of practical growing and cooking skills can greatly increase both individual and community resilience.  It can also be fun!

“An added aspect here is the range of different community groups who wish to be involved, all of whom will bring their own dimension to the project, as well as enabling wider involvement into as yet unreached groups within the local area.  We have a working title for all the community growing projects in North East Lincolnshire – #CommunityGrowingNEL.  This highlights that communities who grow things together also grow together themselves.”

Major Alison Gardner, church leader at Grimsby Salvation Army, said:

“This project will provide many things, not only fresh produce for people who are struggling with the cost of living and reliant on food banks, but a peaceful place where people can sit among the trees in East Marsh, enjoy a picnic and view the dock tower. 

“As a church and charity, part of our mission is ‘care for creation’, the idea of protecting and caring for our planet.  The creation of this garden represents all that is good in our community, encouraging green space and providing a basis on which happiness, health, and friendship can be built and where every person can play a part and contribute.  It will be somewhere that children and older people can work and rest together with dignity, where those who plant can harvest, cook and eat their produce.

“The Salvation Army recently reopened its church and community centre in East Marsh where we have a thriving coffee shop and programme of activities. There’s a real energy about the place at the moment and this community garden will only add to that.” 

How you can help

The team behind this project are appealing for volunteers to help prepare and plant the garden. They also need: water butts, chippings, compost, and soil. If you can help, and want further information about the project, please contact Mary Vickers, Community Food Co-ordinator in North East Lincolnshire, by emailing [email protected].

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