Wild Roots Community Garden is being created in Ouseburn by a group of local volunteers, supported by the Ouseburn Trust, and the water company has provided a £4,000 grant through its environmental fund, Branch Out.
Groundwork is currently underway on the garden, next to Stepney Bank Stables on the site of a former underground freight rail platform. The brownfield site will eventually become a community wildlife garden, complete with kitchen garden and is expected to open in Summer 2023.
As well as the garden, the group aim to create habitat for wildlife to flourish and a venue where people can get together and enjoy the social and mental health benefits of being in green space.
Plans are also being developed to partner with local schools and special educational needs providers.
The funding from Northumbrian Water will support the development of a wetland area, with a pond and bog garden, as well as plants and tools. The garden will also benefit from greywater harvesting – taking rainwater to use instead of relying on treated water.
Stuart Pudney, Conservation and Land Manager at Northumbrian Water, said: “This is a really exciting project, with benefits for the community as well as the environment, taking a brownfield site and turning it into a real asset for Ouseburn.
“Our Branch Out fund is a great way for organisations to get funding support for projects that benefit wildlife, the environment and communities, so we are really pleased to be able to contribute to the establishment of Wild Roots Community Garden, as it has real potential to deliver for all of those things.”
Nick Figgis, Wild Roots project manager, said: “A lot of hard graft has already been done by volunteers and this grant from Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out fund will help take the garden to the next level - establishing a valuable space for people and wildlife. We hope to make this a thriving natural space for Ouseburn and St Anne's and look forward to welcoming visitors in 2023.”
The Woodland Trust has also donated native tree saplings to the project, for the planting of a wildlife hedge, as part of its Trees for Schools and Communities initiative.
The Wild Roots Community Garden is currently looking for new volunteers, as well as support in terms of people or organisations that can provide resources and donations. Anybody who would like to know more can contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can find out more about Branch Out, which welcomes applications for up to £25,000, here.