What was wasteland with no meaning or purpose held by the community is now a landmark, a place where people can come, feel safe, supported, meeting socially, learn and enjoy the outdoor environment. The project has resulted in many, opportunities that in some cases have changed peoples lives. From something as simple as a place to meet others and become less isolated, learn to grow food or about biodiversity and nature it is also a place where people can engage in high profile activities and opportunities that may have previously felt unachievable but as a community they can achieve those goals.
Our two show gardens at RHS Tatton Park have been particularly notable: in 2019, The Petrus team won a silver medal and the Peoples Choice for their 'Petrus' Paradise' Garden which highlighted the therapeutic impact of horticulture on those experiencing homelessness; in 2021, the team won a bronze medal and the Peoples Choice Award for a second time for their garden which explored rain garden techniques, water diversion and planting schemes that can be used to reduce water run off or that can cope with flash flooding. An issue that all of our volunteers have experienced on or community garden site. We hope that projects such as this will inspire others to consider how they can use their own outside spaces to reduce the impact of flooding on our communities.
PIER is a lead partner in the Rochdale Social Prescribing Network where we aim to widen our impact with an overall goal of supporting community based gardening to be available via prescription linked with all GP surgeries across the borough. Our current offer through the network has seen an expansion in collaborative working to enable a wider range of green care activity to be delivered from low and high level walks and combining art with the natural environment. By creating a co-produced offer from the outset we hope to support members of the community to shape a service that will create healthier, mutually supportive, sustainable communities.
Get to know your community.
Go out and speak to people, network, find out what is already out there, where the gaps are and what people need.
There is a vast amount of expertise in any community and people passionate about making a difference with a range of skills and knowledge about all different topics, activities and understanding about how to engage with and support members from across the community. By reaching out and working together for a common goal we can share these skills, expertise and resources to ensure what we are doing is community led and meeting the needs of that community effectively.
Don't be disheartened if things go wrong.
Along the way things will inevitably won't go to plan even with research and planning. Each community is different and what works for one might not for another so learning from what hasn't worked is equally important as what has worked well.
See the potential.
The site was a former mill site, out of use and subject to fly tipping. From this we have created a thriving, award winning community garden running regular sessions to the wider community to explore food growing, improve biodiversity and look at creative ways to reuse waste materials. More recently, we have been looking at our role in the community as gardeners to reduce flooding (through our show garden exhibit at RHS Tatton Park Flower).