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The Station Master's Community Wildlife Garden The Station Master's Community Wildlife Garden
April 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

If one of your resolutions was to get outside more, and perhaps help others too, then look no further

We've brought together the best community garden projects in the region, perfect for getting your hands dirty and connecting with the local community too.
The Millennium Green Morpeth

The Millennium Green
Hidden in the centre of this busy market town, The Millennium Green was originally a piece of derelict wasteland used for parking cars and dumping rubbish. The land was brought back to life by local residents and with funding from various trusts and agencies as well as Morpeth Town Council. The garden has been going strong for more than 20 years and features a stunning mosaic created in part by local school children.

Run by the Old Bakehouse Millennium Green Trust, the garden is maintained by a group of local volunteers called Friends of the Green who organise events and help to keep the Green clean and tidy. With a walled garden, insect garden and coppice area, this is a perfect place to find some peace right in the heart of Morpeth. If you want to become more heavily involved as a Friend of the Green, contact details are available online.

Scotswood Garden Newcastle

Scotswood Garden
Established in 1995, this garden spans more than two acres and contains a variety of different areas including three ponds, forest gardens, an orchard area and meadowland. The ponds attract an array of wildlife including the rare great crested newt and the two meadows are used to encourage spring and summer flowers.

The garden hosts a range of activities to help engage with the local community, with a number of ways to get involved. Their Growing Together project holds volunteer sessions three times each week which are open to everyone over the age of 18 and volunteers get the chance to try their hand at new skills including beekeeping, woodwork, pruning, landscaping and fruit picking. These sessions are also fantastic for improving mental health and wellbeing in an informal and supportive environment. For older members of the community, they host an Elderberries group who enjoy weekly drop-in gardening sessions.

Lovaine Community Garden North Shields

Lovaine Community Garden
North Shields
In the middle of North Shields town centre is this peaceful community garden, cultivated with the aim of encouraging eco-consciousness within the local community. Established in 2010, the garden is built on a former World War Two bomb site and is a sanctuary for those who lack access to garden spaces in more urban areas.

Open to the public on select days during the week, they also host a range of activities here so the local community can get involved, including coffee mornings, gardening clubs and live music nights with busker sessions. It’s an ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life without travelling for miles into the countryside.

Sunderland Home Grown

Sunderland Home Grown
Formerly a council maintenance site, this land in Sunderland was transformed by Sunderland Home Grown into a plant nursery facility and garden centre for the local community to enjoy. The nursery works with young people and adults with learning difficulties and mental health concerns and aims to provide a supportive and nurturing environment through the use of horticulture. The organisation also offers training and employment programmes to give participants the tools for future success.

As well as this, there are a number of interest groups to get stuck into, including fruit and vegetable growing, beekeeping, healthy eating and community gardening. Become a member (join up online) and you have access to craft workshops, horticultural activities and other events.

The Comfrey Project Gateshead and Newcastle

The Comfrey Project
Gateshead and Newcastle
Founded in 2001, The Comfrey Project has worked hard to provide a supportive environment for refugees and asylum seekers to learn new skills, share their own and build lasting relationships. Although primarily based in Gateshead, they operate across three sites in the area: the main site at Windmill Hill Centre in Gateshead and two allotments across Newcastle.

The volunteers help to make decisions about how the organisation is run and there are weekly community garden sessions which include group activities such as cooking, landscaping and maintenance. The Gateshead site also offers drop in sessions on Fridays for the whole community with lunch provided, and creative gardening activities taking place. There’s no referral needed for these sessions, just a friendly attitude and a desire to get stuck in. Living North recently caught up with the organisation and you can read all about their vital work here.

Higher Ground Allendale

Higher Ground
This community garden in Northumberland is dedicated to improving mental health, wellbeing and social isolation through gardening. Based at the former Allendale First School, the organisation has converted an old mobile classroom into a comfortable space for relaxation and group activities.

The nursery grows native wildflowers and trees in an effort to combat the decline in local biodiversity and also champions the BLUE campaign which asks you to dedicate part of your garden for wildflowers and pollinators by allowing it to grow freely. You can leave a blue heart staked in the ground to let your friends and neighbours know about the rewilding process. Higher Ground also welcomes volunteers to help with tasks including garden maintenance, helping with workshops and supervising the weekly coffee den.

Jesmond Community Orchard

Jesmond Community Orchard
Nestled at the rear of St. Andrew’s Cemetery, Jesmond Community Orchard provides a wonderful green space for the public to enjoy. Not only is the space available for community events, it is also a haven for urban wildlife and provides fresh fruit and vegetables for the local area. The Orchard is open to visitors whenever the cemetery is open.

There are a number of events throughout the year to take part in and most recently this has included a grafting course where participants can learn how to graft their own apple trees, as well as winter pruning courses and gardening sessions which take place every second and fourth Sunday, so why not head on down.

Grove Hill Community Garden

Grove Hill Community Garden
This community garden project is one of many new green projects across the town that aims to bring the community together through horticulture, and to encourage an increase in sustainably grown local fruit and vegetables.

This is part of the city’s green action plan which aims to increase biodiversity, reduce waste and tackle climate change. The garden contains raised beds for growing wildflowers and produce, as well as a polytunnel area which is ideal for growing produce needing warmer conditions such as tomatoes and is part of the Grove Hill Community Hub.

Edible Hexham

Edible Hexham
Maintained by Transition Tynedale volunteers, throughout Hexham you can find various beds dedicated to edible plants, herbs and fruit that are grown there. The project was inspired by a visit to a similar project taking place in Todmorden and in 2014, the first beds were planted near the Wentworth Café. The project has blossomed from there.

The aim is to help the local community enjoy good quality, homegrown food and recently the Edible Hexham Trail has been established to encourage this. The trail is two miles around Hexham and mixes local food and history with the work of the project. You can find a copy of the trail (and some recipes too) online.

The Station Master’s Community Wildlife Garden

The Station Master’s Community Wildlife Garden
Whitley Bay
Just a step away from Whitley Bay metro station is this beautifully maintained community garden and wildlife habitat, opened in 2013 with the aim of bringing life back to a patch of land that had become a derelict space. Work began in earnest in 2012 and the space has been completely transformed by local residents with the support of Nexus.

The garden boasts a range of shared beds which are allocated out each March to be cared for. To be considered for a bed you can become a friend of the garden, but there are other ways to get involved including beekeeping support and general garden maintenance. There is also a nature club for children which is held on the second Saturday of each month (weather permitting) which focuses on a different horticultural topic each month to learn about.

Ovingham Community Orchard

Ovingham Community Orchard
Ovingham Community Orchard was established in 2018 on a field previously used for grazing and now boasts 24 apple trees of different varieties as well as a boundary hedge which helps to encourage and support the wildlife in the area. In January, the community held a wassailing ceremony which is a traditional mid-winter blessing that encourages a good harvest from orchards. The event was held at dusk and included seasonal refreshments and music.

With the fruits from the orchard belonging to everyone, it is a great place to take a stroll, enjoy the fresh air and take part in whichever activities are running. In September, the orchard held an Apple Day for the local community, with fresh juice made and apple bird feeders being constructed.

Growing Communities Action Group

Growing Communities Action Group
With the aim of creating communal garden spaces throughout Berwick to bring communities together, there is always something to get involved with here. Specifically, the action group want to increase access to growing spaces, combat the growing issue of food poverty and transform unused sites into practical green spaces for the community - so there’s plenty to get involved with and information about joining the action group is available online.

Recently, the group joined with Berwick Community Trust to help tidy and maintain the edible bed at Castlegate Community Garden, and also emptied and replenished the empty beds at Foul Ford. The refreshed beds were designed with a medicinal theme, as well as containing growing herbs and edible flowers.

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