Looking for a beautiful park or garden to get out and enjoy the weather? Locality members manage some great ones! Here’s a selection of some spaces you can go to unwind.
Hardie Park, Essex
Bulbs are peeping out all over Hardie Park in Stanford-le-Hope in Essex – a family park and open space managed by local residents for the benefit of the whole community.
Where there was once an unloved park with out of date and broken equipment, frequent arson attacks and broken gates, there’s now a great café, toilets, children’s play area, Men’s Shed, pétanque rink, skate park, garden, BMX track and trim trail, all thanks to the persistence and dedication of local people who quite literally unlocked the power of their community!
They also host an array of events – their annual Easter egg hunt (this year on 31 March) attracts over 3,000 people! But if chocolate’s not your thing how about their Sausage and Cider event on 8 April or Classic Car and Crafts day a week later – something for everyone!
Hyde Park Source, Leeds
Did you know there are 55 woodland areas in Leeds, and that almost everyone in the city is less than 15 minutes away from a community orchard? How amazing!
There are also little bits of space turned into gardens, allotments and more by local people guided by fantastic member Hyde Park Source, established in 1998 by two local people who wanted to do something about the state of their local environment. Their idea was to work with local residents in creating recreational spaces from the derelict and hazardous bin yards which occur every 4th house in the back-to-back terraced streets.
Since then, Hyde Park Source has grown into an innovative, dynamic and influential organisation that continues to regenerate derelict areas, working with people to build confidence and skills and improve health and wellbeing through managing gardens and green spaces.
Across the projects, they run you’ll find beautiful mosaics, social spaces, nursery beds, willow tunnels, and much more. And they’re happy to help other members keen to create an oasis from an unloved space. They’ll talk through your ideas and can even run inclusive consultation days, supporting you to apply for funding if necessary.
Scotswood Natural Community Garden, Newcastle
Scotswood Natural Community Garden in Newcastle’s West End covers two-and-a-half acres and has served as a vital green lung in a built-up area for over 20 years. It features wildflower meadows, vegetables, ponds with frogs, toads and three species of newt – including the rare great-crested newt – birch woodland, a sculpture trail and a heritage orchard of 60 trees.
All sections of the community have opportunities to participate in activities, learning about the natural environment and sustainable lifestyles, using the garden to develop new skills and creativity through inclusive arts activities, and improve fitness (it’s hard work keeping those ponds clean and footpaths weed-free!).
The garden also runs a variety of issue based youth work activities and trains teachers in the Forest School concept, so young people can be involved in outdoor activities ranging from bushcraft to den building.
Most of all, the garden is about people and visitors are welcome to enjoy the lovely surroundings whenever they can.
Abney Park, Hackney
A cemetery may seem like a strange place to celebrate spring, a time of rebirth, but Abney Park in Stoke Newington, one of the ‘magnificent seven’ garden cemeteries of London, is a beautiful oasis of peace and greenery with a fascinating history.
Abney’s tens of thousands of memorials enchant and entrance. In varying states of repair, they can be seen as sad or romantic, mysterious or moving. They range from grand towering plinths topped with stark columns to the humble knee-high stones of common graves.
Originally laid out as an arboretum with 2,500 varieties of plants, after the cemetery company went into administration in the 1970s Abney fell into disrepair and was abandoned allowing a uniquely wild atmosphere to develop at the site.
The London Borough of Hackney took over ownership in the 80s and started to manage it in partnership with the Abney Park Trust which organises an amazing variety of events and activities in the park, from walks and talks to theatrical and music performances and art exhibitions.
Management of this beautiful urban wilderness aims to balance the needs of Abney’s wildlife with the requirements of the historic landscape and structures as well as the Park’s memorial role.
The Outback, Halifax
The Outback is Halifax Opportunities Trust’s (HOT) permaculture community garden located in the heart of Park Ward, Halifax. In an area densely populated by row upon row of terraced houses, The Outback provides sanctuary and calm away from the everyday hustle and bustle.
The garden is also home to a community kitchen built from straw bales and topped with a sedum roof, leaving as little a carbon footprint as possible. The kitchen hosts cookery classes, meetings and birthday parties whilst the garden is tended by a loyal band of volunteers and its organic produce is sold locally.
Despite the recent bad weather, volunteers have been working hard preparing the garden for the summer growing season and clearing an area to create space for a second poly-tunnel which will allow the garden to produce food all year round.
During Easter HOT are hosting a range of family activities at The Outback to engage with the local community as well as hands-on cooking classes in the kitchen to encourage healthy eating for the whole family, and from late-spring and throughout the summer The Outback opens weekly on a Tuesday afternoon for families to come along and enjoy spending time together playing in the garden.
Let’s Grow Preston, Lancashire
You’d be forgiven for not immediately thinking of Preston as a pulsing environmental heartland, but you’d be wrong!
There are lots of community gardens, food growing projects woodland and park improvement projects as well as many schemes that focus on small areas like a local flowerbed or larger areas such as an extensive wildflower meadow. All are managed and run by small teams of dedicated volunteers who give up their own time to help improve their neighbourhood.
Let’s Grow Preston, based at a fantastic community hub within Ashton Walled Garden on Ashton Park, helps support these groups by providing a network through which they can all meet each other and share ideas, skills and resources. There’s a large community garden which is used for training, volunteering and growing stocks of plants to help new and upcoming groups and activities get going.
Our members transform lives
Our members not only transform parks and open spaces, they transform lives. We’re very proud of all they do, stepping in when other people look away, filling a need that’s not being met, creating spaces at the heart of our communities where everyone belongs and where local people can shape their own future.
If you’re doing similar work we’d love you to join us. Together we can unlock the power of local communities and create a society where every person in every community thrives.