So the following year we dug 2 beds in the football pitch, one for flowers and one for rhubarb and Ykids installed 2 beehives. At this point park users started to join us, learning how to sow, plant and grow and taking home what they grew to cook.
Each year we have added new beds and extended the range of fruit and vegetables we grow, expanded the hours we are open and added seasonal events. The number of volunteers participating has increased, as has the amount of food we have grown. But the bees left for pastures anew, near the Leeds Liverpool canal in Netherton.
2019, saw a change in the running of the garden. Ykids employed a food worker to work with children and their families from the area, and they have taken over responsibility for the land with the raised beds. The Gateway Collective has retained the football pitch and we continue to expand the number of beds we have and work with anyone who wants to help.
In the garden we follow no-dig principles and multi sow seeds into modules. What does that mean though? Well, no-dig is exactly what it says. When we add compost to our beds we don’t dig it in, we leave it on the top. This is a principle much promoted by Kitchen gardener Charles Dowding. We also follow his method of multiple sowing of seeds - which basically means that we sow several seeds in the one growing place (started off indoors in module trays). This saves space as we grow the seeds indoors and as we continue to grow them outside.
North Park Community Garden started in 2015, as a result of an off chance remark, but its ethos has always been about community involvement and providing volunteers with the opportunities to develop friendships, learn new skills, improve their employability and increase their well being as well as contribute to the growth of the garden. By working and eating together, we enrich the lives of the individual, strengthen the community and improve the environment we live in.
The off chance remark was to a council Parks employee responsible for community engagement was, “Do you have any land that we could have to grow veg on?”. The answer was “You can have that bit” as she pointed to a narrow strip of land, behind a fence, next to a rarely used 5-aside football pitch. So in collaboration with a local children’s charity Ykids, the garden began.
Ykids, through connections they had, enlisted a construction company to build us 10 raised beds - for free. We filled them with A LOT of compost and the growing began.
That first year we only had 4 volunteers, all who had been invited to join us. This worked out well as we found our feet and gave us the confidence to ask if we could have the football pitch for growing, as well.