Yasmin Quayyum writes about an exciting project that MCFly readers can get involved in.
Having recently marked its five year anniversary and newly being added to the Agroforestry Research Trust’s network, Birchfields Park Forest Garden is a dynamic and developing venture, moving from strength to strength. It is situated in the tranquil and picturesque surroundings of Birchfields Park, easily found half-way between the popular Longsight Market and nationally famous Rusholme ‘Curry Mile’.
This pioneering inner-city project grew from a campaign by Birchfields Green Action Group and has been funded by various organisations including Red Rose Forest (via the Heritage Lottery Fund), Wildabout Manchester and Awards for All – not to mention its parent organisation, Friends of Birchfields Park. Recognising that a forest garden, imitating patterns and processes of natural woodlands, would prove engaging, productive, educational and sustainable, the Friends have been of continuous support from the start.
Previously, the site was a council-maintained rose garden but has since been transformed into the lush, bio-diverse permaculture model that thrives today. Thoughtfully designed to beautiful effect, the blueprint took much reference from Whitefield’s ‘How to Make a Forest Garden’ and has benefitted from Manchester Permaculture Network’s input. Its circular form is divided into four quadrants – each led by its own Quadrant Leader – and each displaying its own individual character in terms of layout, species grown and function. The Forest Garden is shaped and maintained by dedicated volunteer Group members and local residents who share a common objective – environmental betterment for the benefit of local communities, wildlife and biodiversity.
Public involvement lies at the heart of the Forest Garden operation and new volunteers are always welcome: Work sessions take place on the third Sunday of each month, 1 till 3 p.m. and alternative extra sessions are frequently held on a weekday evening for those unable to attend on weekends or those able to contribute more time. Ever evolving, past activities have included hosting courses and events and new developments are also underway in an initiative to engage the interest and participation of local children. This is by way of introducing childrens’ forest gardening sessions for the local community centre’s After School Club which so far, have proved popular.
To participate in any of these activities, or if unable to volunteer but wish to support through donations, please contact Jane Morris: 07827980684, firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more
Birchfields Park Forest Garden.