In February 2017, Green Synergy was granted a lease for 2.5 acres of derelict land at the back of Lincoln County Hospital. Formerly used as allotments, the site was covered in thirty-years of brambles and fly-tipped waste. Together with the local community, the hospital, schools, businesses and voluntary groups, we are transforming it into a beautiful, edible, accessible space for everyone to enjoy. We are nearing the end of our first phase of development which has focussed on the creation of the ‘community garden’. Next year we will commence phase two which will see the addition of therapy animals and an eco-building.
In last year’s report, we spoke of creating the main crop area, community-lawn, herbaceous borders, peace garden and wildlife area. It is really exciting to report back on the progress of these elements and to share news on our latest developments.
The Peace Garden Thanks to our team of regular volunteers and additional support from Marks and Spencer the Peace Garden was completed last summer. The idea for this garden originally came from Lincoln’s Interfaith Forum who contributed the seed funds. Green Synergy Volunteers worked up a spiral design with a central water feature and soft white and purple planting to represent a wave of peace coming over you as you enter this small tranquil space. A team of volunteers from Marks and Spencer worked alongside our Get into Gardening project to construct the garden. Marks and Spencer also kindly donated funds for the plants. The Peace Garden also represents and helps to communicate our shared values of inclusivity, community cohesion and respect.
The Therapeutic Garden is another area of the Hillside designed to create a sense of peace and calm. Funded by the Bromhead Medical Trust, this twelve-metre by ten-metre space is enclosed by a wooden fence to help people feel safe and secure when inside. It has a segmented circular theme; each section is planted with a different colour, from whites, through to pastel pinks, cool blues, hot reds, oranges and dark purples, browns and black. There is also a variety of shapes and structures from soft, fury leaves to tall spires and jagged edges. The planting is deliberately diverse, enabling people to connect with different areas, depending on their mood and emotions that day. The various shapes, sizes and colours can help people identify and express their feelings.
This garden is already being used by our ‘Better Together’ therapeutic horticulture project (see page 18 for more information), who are currently designing the central space. In future, we also plan to use the Therapeutic Garden for dementia friendly and accessible gardening.
In the Productive Area, we have harvested an abundance of vegetables including potatoes, leeks, cabbages, broccoli, turnips, beetroot, radish, beans and peas … so much produce. This is shared between volunteers and surplus is given out to the wider community, recently we also started to supply spinach to local community cafés.
This spring we planted up the heritage Orchard with old English cherries and traditional Lincolnshire varieties of apples and plums including Ellison’s Orange, an apple bred in Bracebridge.
We have been delighted to see Whitethroats and Blackcaps in the Wild Area as well as more common garden birds. The scrub, brambles and nettles make a brilliant home for a variety of wildlife and now with access paths, it’s possible to see more of it. We are continuing to increase the species diversity through habitat management and the addition of wild plants including native daffodils, snowdrops and wild garlic.
In March we excitedly received a 40ft Shipping Container, kindly donated by Spouge Farms and Denby Transport. This massive ‘shed’ means we no longer need to ferry tools to site. Lindum Construction is supporting us to fit out the interior to create a tool store and workshop. This will give us the opportunity to continue the development of the site and offer new activities such as tool repair and garden furniture making. The store will be further secured with a security fence forming what we will call the Utility Area, within which we will erect a polytunnel and house a beautiful wooden caravan gifted by the Houghton and Wright family in loving memory of their son. Therefore, as well as safe storage, the utility area will provide us with new covered spaces for growing and meeting.
This year the Borders have really started to flourish. They have been filled with colour pretty much throughout the whole year. There is always something of interest to look at and enjoy.
Whilst we have carefully created plans for Hillside, we have also found that the designs are evolving organically, partially due to new ideas from participants and partially owing to the natural materials we find on site. Formerly a quarry, Hillside is yielding wonderful pieces of limestone that we are using to create drystone walls, seating and water features. Offcuts from overgrown trees have been used to create log edging for pathways.
As always, throughout the year we have been supported by a fabulous team of volunteers, staff and community and business partners. The beautiful garden that is evolving is a direct reflection of everyone’s commitment, hard work, dedication, energy and skills. We would like to take this opportunity to say a heart-felt thank you to each person who has been involved. We would also like to thank all of our funders and donors who have contributed money, times and materials to us. This incredible ongoing support is so gratefully received and appreciated. Collectively it is making significant positive changes to the environment and to the lives of individuals in our local community.
So far Green Synergy has received support for the project from Public Health Lincolnshire, Grow Wild, The NGS Elspeth Thompson Bursary, Bromhead Medical Trust, for which we are very thankful. We are currently raising further funds through a crowdfunding campaign to build the garden infrastructure, set up projects and start a social enterprise (so we can be financially sustainable in future). click here to support us. For further information visit www.fundit.buzz/greensynergy.