An gardening organisation is flourishing in Preston, creating many enjoyable green landscapes across the city.
Let’s Grow Preston is an independent charity which works with many partners like Community Gateway, Groundwork, Lancashire County Council and United Utilities to engage the public in volunteering and enjoying green spaces.
The charity is based at Ashton Walled Gardens, at Ashton Park, with a second site at Grange Community Gardens in Ribbleton.
Annie Wynn, chairman, says: “In Preston we are lucky to have lots of community environmental groups and activities, such as community gardens, food growing projects as well a groups that are focusing on improving woodlands or parks.
“Let’s Grow Preston helps support these groups by providing a network by which they can all meet each other and share ideas, skills and resources.
“We are based at a fantastic hub within Ashton Walled Garden, where we have a large community garden which is used for training, volunteering and growing stocks of plants to help new groups and activities get going.
“We are fortunate to share this site with Dig In (North West) who work with veterans and families of veterans who have PTSD, and AFG (Armed Forces Group)
“Our second site at Grange Community Gardens is much larger and has two huge polytunnels. This is our engine room, from where we grow the most crops. We have a successful relationship with Lancashire Wildlife Trust and grow wildflower plugs for their local projects which helps to generate income.
“There is also a wood workshop and bicycle maintenance workshop that is run by Lancashire Care Trust.
“We produce a lots of vegetables from this site and have successfully run Grow to Eat sessions for volunteers. The surplus is given to the Foxton Centre.”
One of the group’s prominent projects is Bee’s Meadow, at Broadgate, near the River Ribble.
It is named after Andrew Greenwood, one of the charity’s most dedicated volunteers, who died from cancer early 2015.
Annie adds: “It is a wonderful space and after Andy passed away, we knew that naming the meadow after him would be a fitting tribute to his dedication.”
Since its formation as a network of community projects under the name Preston Environmental Forum in 2011, the group has progressed into a charitable organisation.
It has won three Best Practice awards and achieved a level 3 award from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) It’s Your neighbourhood Britain in Bloom.
Annie adds: “We have been established for four years and we are starting now to make really good long term plans for our business plan so that we can become sustainable. We are putting together a Reaching Communities bid currently in the hope that we can achieve funding for a full time employee and two part time employees.”
Let’s Grow Preston’s next event is a spring fair and opening ceremony at Ashton Walled Garden on April 29.
Sessions are on Mondays from 9.30am until 3.30pm at Grange Community Garden and Wednesdays from 1pm until 4pm at Ashton Community Garden.
Annie says: “Anyone wishing to experience the great outdoors and learn about growing plants can come along. There are experienced staff who can help with horticulture. We also need help with fund-raising, public relations, photographing and documenting our achievements and activities and organising events.
“We also have lots of groups who are members of Lets Grow Preston, like St Barnabas Place, Friends of Highgate Woods, Ashton Weed and Feed and Avenham Community Gardens. So there may be other opportunities to get involved.”
For more information visit www.letsgrowpreston.org.