Growing in the City

Project Category: Informal community groupProject Tags: Education, Energy, Gardens and Sharing Economy

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    Project Aim

    To provide a community green space for local people to socialise, share existing and learn new skills and grow their own food.

    This project is based on an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach which considers local assets as primary building blocks of sustainable community building. The approach has been developed to build on the skills of local residents with the supportive function of local institutions and partners. 

    ABCD draws on existing community strengths, to build stronger, more connected and thriving communities.

    Project Outline

    This project is an initiative of ‘Growing in the City’, using land owned by Church of the Resurrection & St. Barnabas, (the Parish of Eastlands, Manchester) and working with other third sector, social enterprise and charitable partners as well as the business community.

    ‘Growing in the City’ has already been supported by The Plunkett Foundation, who promote and support co-operatives and social enterprises to help communities with solutions to the challenges that they are facing. This support was funded by the ‘Big Lottery’ under the ‘Making Local Food Work’ and consisted of support from a specialist business mentor Adrian Ashton.

    The Church of the Resurrection & St. Barnabas has agreed to provide access to a plot of land adjacent to their Rectory (M11 2EY) for the initial phase of this project, (approximately 24m x15 m = 360m2 or 0.088 of an acre).  This first stage is a  proof of concept pilot and if successful will look to scale up onto adjacent and nearby areas of unused land on a “market garden”/semi commercial basis. 

    The initial project has 3 initial stages:

    1. Prepare: the land is overgrown, has attracted dumped rubbish and other anti-social behaviour, potentially needs a wall and several unsafe trees removing,

    2. Develop: create an open, friendly space that feels welcoming. Build raised beds, purchase gardening equipment and plants etc.

    3. Grow: develop community use and link in with other partners and support groups via “Open” access and totally inclusive to all the community and specific partners groups /individuals who wish to use the land to explore food growing, nature and sustainability as well as delivering and teaching of cooking. Set up a young person specific club to explore same themes.

    Project Benefits

    ‘Growing in the City’ may look like a gardening project, but it is so much more.

    At the very heart of this project is a desire to allow local people and community to take the lead using their skills and enthusiasm to direct steps to improve the quality of life of the residents of East Manchester.

    Outcomes we will work towards:

    1. reducing social isolation,

    2. sharing and improving life skills,

    3. build community cohesion,

    4. improve knowledge around food, healthy eating and lifestyles,

    5. assist/improve perceptions of young people,

    6. increase levels of physical activity,

    7. offer Accredited Qualifications in Employment Skills and other topics

    Partnerships and Support

    The following organisations have all been supportive of the initial outline discussions held and we hope to formalise, capture and crystalise this into tangible action.

    1. Manchester City Council

    2. Manchester Probation Service (Community Payback programme)

    3. Mancunian Way, (a charity specialising in overcoming anti-social behaviour)

    4. Manchester City Football Club

    5. Local Housing Associations

    6. Greater Manchester Police 

    7. Manchester College

    8. Manchester Mind, (the mental health charity)

    Background and Extended Commentary

    East Manchester History

    East Manchester was the birth place of the Industrial Revolution and was once part of the power house of England with manufacturing, industry and power and coal production but this has now almost totally ceased. Remains of this great past can still be found in the canals and renovated Mills in the area. There is derelict land where formerly factories stood, much of which is contaminated.

    After the WWII, a steady decline in industry resulted in waves of people leaving the area to find work, this led to an exodus over decades, and social deprivation set in.

    There are some 9100 people living within the Parish boundary Eastlands. The Parish falls almost exclusively within the Bradford local authority ward which has approximately 11,000 people living within it. 

    Most of the housing is former local authority stock, now owned by housing associations. Eastlands Housing Association manages the
    bulk of the properties, but there are a number run by other housing associations including but not limited to Adactus and Mosscare. There are still some old terraced housing which is mainly now owned by private landlords.

    There has in recent years been some demolition of sub-standard properties and some considerable investment by New East Manchester (a New Deal for Communities initiative) and there has been some new build homes, some of which is housing association and some owner-occupier.

    The rebirth of East Manchester was being awarded the Commonwealth Games 2002. This directly led to investment, Government funding and a long term plan to regenerate the area.

    The Etihad Stadium (built as the Commonwealth Games Stadium) falls within the parish and there are proposals and on-going activity to redevelop part of Beswick, including the opening of a new sixth form college, leisure facilities and retail units.

    At a time when the economic downturn has halted regeneration in many parts of the City this is obviously very welcome news. However, there are concerns that previous investment in and around the area have not led to employment of local people or tackled the social deprivation of those living in the area. It is therefore vital that any future development benefits the local community as well as the City and the Greater Manchester conurbation.

    A decade on, East Manchester has made huge progress, is attracting new businesses, lots of new homes have been built, education has improved and a new college is being built. East Manchester is on the world stage and attracts visitors from all over the world through being the home of Manchester City FC.

    The history of East Manchester is still being written, we wish to contribute to it.

    Social Deprivation

    East Manchester has come a long way from the days of empty rows of boarded up terrace houses and rampant anti-social behaviour, but it still has social problems and needs support.

    The area scores highly on almost every measure on the indices of multiple deprivation.  It is in the top 1% of parishes in England on:

    Index of Multiple Deprivation

    Income Deprivation

    Health Deprivation and Disability

    Education Skills and Training

    Crime and Disorder

    Income Deprivation Affecting children

    Income Deprivation affecting Older People

    Project Development

    It is hoped that the venture can create a positive ripple effect in the East Manchester area.  Beyond the initial project site development there is opportunity to increase activity on other land in the area.  There is other land around of about 0.96 of an acre which could be suitable for food production and even a community center/hub.  There is also land in the vicinity which whilst it might be contaminated and unsuitable
    for non remediated food growing might be planted as an wildlife eco-garden, wood or other community amenity.

    Contact details:

    Clive Hamilton

    M: 07414 545980


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    South Street, Lower Openshaw, Manchester