The York garden project that’s brought a community together

Until 2011, what is now Greenfields School and Community Garden in York was simply an unloved and rarely mowed former school field, mainly used by the occasional dog walker. Through the hard work of local residents, scouts, and the teachers and pupils of Haxby Primary school, alongside the charity initiative Edible York, the space is now a thriving community garden.

Why are community gardens important?

In many urban areas, especially the lower-income ones, residents have no gardens of their own. This means they have little access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Areas like this are known as food deserts, and the people who live within them are more likely to rely on unhealthy foods options, such as the processed food found in their local supermarkets and fast food restaurants. Community gardens are a solution to this problem.

As well as providing people with fresh produce and plants, gardens such as these also contribute to a sense of community. They bring together people of all ages through gardening and horticultural projects, whilst also offering them an opportunity to improve their neighborhood and their conditions of life.

What has been happening at Greenfields?

Since the project began six years ago, the former school field in York has been transformed. Thanks to funding from the environmental charity, Tidy Wales, and the Yorkshire county council, as well as help from Groundwork, the empty site has been transformed into a garden for all members of the community to enjoy.

Greenfields now has more than a dozen fruit and vegetable beds, plus an orchard with 40 fruit trees of various types. Both a shelter and a secure tool store have been built. As well as providing a safe place for locals to gather and participate in the growing of their own food, the place has also become a haven for butterflies, bees, birds and wildlife. The children of Haxby Primary School have been provided with a wonderful place where they can learn all about nature and growing things, as well as the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables. In the mornings it is a place where elderly people can sit and chat on their way to and from the local shops. In the evenings the younger generation make use of the space.

All of this has been achieved through the tireless hard work of volunteers.

Through the summer months Greenfields School and Community Garden hosts weekly gardening sessions. These reduce in number during the winter, although they do continue. Upcoming garden sessions are on 18th November 2017, 3rd December 2018 and 8th December 2018. Sessions will resume with greater frequency in the spring. All are welcome to attend. Their only rule is that everyone be treated with respect, no matter what their background, gender, orientation or faith might be.

Visit their Facebook page for further information about gardening sessions at Greenfields, or follow them on Twitter.