My name is Victoria Holden, Director of Northern Lily Community Interest Company. Nature has amazing benefits to Greater Manchester, particularly in urban areas. One of the most obvious benefits of nature is that it makes us feel good. Nature reduces stress, loneliness, and isolation by providing us with spaces to interact with other people and enjoy gardening, connection to flora and fauna, play, and physical activity. It also boosts our mood, creativity, and productivity.
Nature is especially beneficial for children who are often exposed to too much screen time and stimulation from video games, TV, and phones. When they spend time outdoors, they become calmer, happier, and more engaged. They can play with other children, learn new skills, and use their imagination to create their own games. Parents have reported a big difference in their children after spending time at the Orchard.
The GROWE Community Orchard is a natural area in our urban environment that offers a range of activities and facilities for everyone. We’ve been creating ponds, seating areas, vegetable garden, fruit orchard, wildlife area, and more. It is open to the public and free to use. We offer regular weekly workshops throughout the year for people to help create and maintain the acre site.
Another benefit of nature is that it helps us cope with the challenges of climate change and urbanisation. It provides fresh air and cooler temperatures for people and wildlife, especially in areas like ours that are close to roads, factories, and motorways. It absorbs carbon dioxide and also prevents flooding by storing water and redirecting it to water butts, ponds and swales that create habitats for wildlife and reduce the need for mains water to water our plants and trees.
The GROWE Community Orchard is an example of how nature can be integrated into urban areas to provide environmental services and solutions. It is designed to be sustainable, resilient, and biodiverse. It uses rainwater harvesting, composting, mulching, organic gardening, and permaculture principles to maintain its health and beauty. It also attracts a variety of birds, insects, amphibians, mammals, and plants that enrich its ecosystem.