This is a report on the secret garden planted by Zion United Reformed Church, Northallerton, with help from a Synod mission grant
Northallerton URC has leased the derelict strip of land next to the church, and will hopefully soon complete the lease for the remaining strip adjacent to that. We had three aims in mind:
- To provide a therapeutic space for individuals or groups from our community who may find the garden a helpful place to be
- To increase wildlife and biodiversity within the heart of the town
- To provide sustainably grown fresh fruit and vegetables for any of the Volunteers, their families or users of the Food Bank.
It was very overgrown with brambles, nettles and multiple self-seeded trees which made it very dark and shaded. It was certainly already a haven for wildlife but also a bit of a den for drug and alcohol users too.
We started work in the garden in February 2016 discovering all sorts of hidden features such as a path a patio and an air raid shelter!
We concentrated on establishing the vegetable patch in the only sunny spot with the help of three local Guide troops. We successfully shared our produce with the food bank through the summer months.
We have had numerous individual visitors and groups in the garden. Many have contributed plants, seeds, ideas or art work. Others have just been amazed and delighted by the transformation.
We had a church picnic in the summer to celebrate our “Ethel bed” flower bed.
Sadly this huge sycamore, whilst beautiful, was pushing over the church wall and creating a large amount of shade. It was felled, several of the other trees were crown lifted and multiple self-seeded saplings were removed. This has made a massive difference to the light and growing possibilities.
Our poly tunnel has now been built, just in time for the new growing season, and we have expanded our fruit growing area into the new patch of sunshine too.
We look forward to providing a greater selection of fresh fruit and veg for our volunteers and users of the Food Bank this coming year.
We re-opened an old gateway onto the church land and built a new path to provide a much safer way in and out of the garden which avoids the busy back lane.
We now have a winding path through the “Ethel bed” flower garden and up onto the air raid shelter for children (and adults!) to explore, and erected a fence to keep both soil and children from falling off.
This new season and the warm sunny weather is already bringing new people to join us in the garden. Thanks to your generous contribution we are off to a flying start this year and are looking forward to seeing how the garden and project will grow and evolve with wildlife and people in mind.
Many thanks yet again