As the growing season begins, now is the perfect time to consider getting an allotment, attempting to grow some veg or fruit in your back garden, or joining one of Lancaster’s many community gardens or gardening groups. You may even consider volunteering on a local organic farm (Growing With Grace, Growing With Nature or Growing Well), to support our local growers and sustainable food economy.
For people who don’t have a garden or just have a yard, community gardens are a great way to get a little exercise, meet people and learn about growing and the wider environment. Many people who already have their own gardens join in as well because they enjoy the community spirit and because they know that together we can grow a much wider range of fruit and vegetables – compared to if we just grew on our own.
Some examples of Lancaster’s community projects include: Fairfield community orchard, near Lancaster’s train station, which was probably the first community orchard in Lancaster. Their inspiring project has now resulted in more orchards and gardens being set up across the district. Scotch Quarry Park now has a thriving community garden which includes herbs, a hazel coppice, fruit trees and fruit bushes, and the Ridge estate has a community orchard growing alongside Ambleside Road. Greaves forage garden is also developing nicely and offers a range of soft and hard fruit, herbs, and even a few grapes and cranberries.
Claver Hill community farm has a number of different edible spaces, including a young apple orchard, an edible hedge, a number of foraging areas, and a ‘perennial area’ where a number of edible perennials (plants that live for two plus years) are being grown.
To support and encourage all this community growing a community plant nursery is also being developed at Claver Hill community farm. Apple and pear trees were grafted in February 2018, the group is learning how to graft plum trees(!) and a number of soft fruit bushes have been propagated- including blackcurrants and gooseberries. The nursery now has a range of small plants which are to be given away for free to community projects and community gardens in public spaces around the district. If you are working on such a project and would like some free plants (including apple Trees, blackcurrants and gooseberries) please get in touch by emailing [email protected]
Maybe your street, club or church would like to start a small community orchard? It’s a good time to start talking about the possibilities: apples, pears, plums and damsons all grow well in Lancaster…