Monday, 4 July 2011

A Tale of Two Community Gardens

The community came together.

There was a disused, council owned play area near their homes.

They wanted to create a place to relax, to come together, to grow vegetables, fruit trees and herbs.

You may be thinking this is another blogpost about Highfields Community Orchard in Huddersfield but you would be wrong. At the weekend I went to the Association of Green Councillors Conference in Norwich and on the Friday night (before the beer and curry) we went to see a successful project to  transform a forgotten patch of land to the rear of some houses into a community garden. Grapes Hill Community Garden was truly inspirational with a project where local  people can collect herbs and fruit and disabled wheelchair users can grow their own vegetables in raised beds. We got a special pre-opening tour of the garden which will officially open in August.

The parallels with Highfields are significant. Both Council owned land, both former play areas, both are near the town centre, both have local people coming together in common cause to improve their local community. That is where the parallels end. In Norwich the Council has supported the project and funding has been found from external sources to bring the project to life. In Kirklees the Council still sees the future of this land as a lucrative development plot rather than a community resource. The Highfields Community Orchard folks have permission from Kirklees to be on the site for the next 6 months or so and this may be extended but a political steer has not been forthcoming.

Ironically, the local Councillors in Greenhead Ward are supporting the establishment of a village green on Clayton Fields a mile up the road. This is something I very much support not least because I used to go sledging down there as a kid when I lived on Imperial Road. The irony is that the council owns the Highfields land at Wentworth Street. With the smallest amount of political direction it could allow local people to have a community orchard in a built up area with all the social benefit that would come from that. This, unfortunately, is not forthcoming.

1 comment:

  1. See also