An under-used green space at the Gorton Community Centre will be transformed into a neighbourhood allotment and event space.
The Gorton Growing Together community project has already attracted a range of partners – including Red Rose Forest, the Groundwork charity and international construction services company, ISG – that have prepared the green space for free before the space is used to attract local people and families and provide training on growing their own food, as well as affordable eating.
The site, to rear of Gorton Community Centre off Highmead Street, has been open to the public so the community to find out how they can get involved in the early stages, while a construction team from ISG readied the site, including the installation of an access pathway serving the whole garden.
The garden will be launched officially in spring offering the community the chance to help maintain the growing spaces themselves, as well as use the green space for local people and families to enjoy.
The garden will accommodate 60 recycled bulk containers (one meter squared) re-purposed as planters.
A portion of the containers will be lowered and set adjacent to the garden’s path to accommodate people with disabilities and older people – along with a poly tunnel for longer term growing throughout the year.
A separate lower bedding area will also be set aside for pupils at the local Abbey Hey Lane Primary School, who will have the opportunity to learn about food production.
The community space is an area of the site that will be left undeveloped and the local community will be invited to hold events or family activity throughout the year. This space will be fully accessible for disabled people and families with pushchairs and will also feature accessible seating for visitors.
€20,000 of EU funding will help fund the Gorton Growing Together project, as well as the city council’s Clean City Fund and Food Growing grant, along with other funders, including Community First and CASH grants.
The project has also received support from the European Union's Value+ project, which is supporting Red Rose Forest to deliver four new local food growing projects in Manchester. The Value+ project is funded by the North West Europe Interreg IVB Funding Programme.
The approach of Value+ is to get local communities, specialists and experts in Green Infrastructure and local authorities, landowners etc to work together to deliver improvements.
Cllr Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council’s executive member for culture and leisure, said: "The Gorton Growing Together project is a double win for the Gorton community – transforming a green space for use by local people and providing a growing space that will benefit local people.
"Gorton Community Centre is already a hub in the local area, but we are thrilled that the project has attracted serious partners and funding that will make this underused space a true community resource – providing both a place of leisure and a place of education all in one."
Danny Murray, ISG’s Northern regional managing director, added: "As a business, ISG is committed to providing a long-lasting and beneficial legacy within the local communities where we work and we are delighted to be involved with this great initiative in Gorton. Working together with all the stakeholders on this project will bring considerable experience and expertise to bear on making this a real success for the local community for many years to come."
Hilary Wood, Green Streets Manager at Red Rose Forest, said: ""Local food projects like this one in Gorton have benefits which go far beyond just helping people to grow their own supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables. Of course, there are lots of health and wellbeing benefits from helping communities to do that and that's the most obvious gain.
"But these 'meanwhile sites' also show the potential which often neglected and underused pieces of land can have if local communities, the council and landowners work together to bring about change. Transforming a piece of derelict land into a food growing space can also boost community spirit locally, it can lift people's pride in where they live and give people new skills and confidence."