Gardening is good for your health and is great for where you live.
And that’s why two green-fingered community groups have been awarded a total of £7,000 by Healthy Norwich, the city-wide programme to help people lead healthier lives.
Lakenham and Town Close Green Spaces sprung up three years ago, to transform local pockets of land and improve them as amenities for local people. They have been awarded £2,000.
From weeding to planting, total makeovers and conservation work, they have been making the Town Close and Lakenham areas nicer places to live in. Volunteers are helping to transform green spaces such as Lakenham Way, Eagle Walk Play Area and Jenny Lind Park, as well as communal gardens in areas of social housing.
A further £5,000 has been awarded to The Conservation Volunteers to run an edible gardening project, also in Lakenham, and to support Lakenham and Town Close Green Spaces in their project work.
The grants, from Healthy Norwich, recognise the huge benefits to everyone’s wellbeing from living in a better environment – plus the undoubted mental and physical benefits of working outside, meeting like-minded people and doing something positive for the community.
Healthy Norwich is run by NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Norwich City Council, Public Health and Broadland District Council, together with additional funding from Norfolk Community Foundation, as part of their Mental Health and Wellbeing match fund initiative.
One of the organisers of Lakenham and Town Close Green Spaces, Pam Frost, said: “Having this funding will make a huge amount of difference. We can increase our publicity so more people will be encouraged to join in, and it will help us get the equipment we need to take on more projects.”
Lakenham and Town Close Green Spaces acts as an umbrella group for teams of people to get involved where they can, providing tools and insurance.
The group gets a lot of support from Norwich in Bloom and from students and tutors at City College who supply many of the plants that are used to brighten up flowerbeds and banks.
Pam said: “We like to think we create urban oases. We want to get local people involved to improve the green spaces in our local area. It makes a better environment, it’s better for wildlife and for those who get involved there are huge benefits.
“You can meet new people, make friends, get outdoors and work for the community with no pressures. You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience.”
Areas that Lakenham and Town Close Green Spaces want to tackle include:
• Lakenham Way – conservation work, including bank clearance to sustain an important colony of lizards and to reduce anti-social behavior – the first session is on Wednesday 7th December
• Eagle Walk Play Area – woodland management and planting of wild flowers and bulbs
• Lea Bridges Park – improvements to attract more flora and fauna
• Jenny Lind Park – create new and improve existing flower and shrub borders in and around the park
• Tuckswood Green – edible growing project.
The Conservation Volunteers’ project, is called 'Grow it Yourself' and will include practical work to look after new food growing areas such as wheelchair-accessible raised beds on Tuckswood Green.
There may also be the opportunity for the use of other green spaces such as Lea Bridges Park to grow edible perennials and an edible hedge. Participants would be learning to grow plants from seed, and then harvest the produce and cook it together nearby.
Representatives from different communities will be invited to share their knowledge of creating appetising meals from simple ingredients. Minibus transport would be provided to take participants from a convenient meeting point to the worksites.
Tasks would be run by a trained experienced leader, all tools, equipment and necessary insurance would be provided, along with basic refreshments for volunteers. Any surplus produce would be distributed to other local people in need.
Mark Webster from Conservation Volunteers said: “”We are really looking forward to getting started on this project. It will give people the chance to have fun improving their local green spaces – and having some great meals in the process!”
Healthy Norwich and Norfolk Community Foundation are making a series of grants to local groups to develop sustainable, healthy communities and improve people’s mental wellbeing.
The Chair of NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group, Tracy Williams, said: “We are really pleased to be able to support these two green initiatives.
“Both are innovative projects which will bring local communities together socially and have benefits in improving the green spaces in local areas for people to enjoy.”