GROWE Community Orchard brings a natural oasis to Failsworth

GROWE Community Orchard brings a natural oasis to Failsworth

Northern Lily’s GROWE Community Orchard, funded in Round Two of the Greater Manchester Green Spaces Fund, offers a variety of activities and opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect in nature. Here, Victoria Holden, Director of Northern Lily, tells us all about the project and shares how nature can improve our wellbeing, environment, and society.

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.

Photo of Victoria Holden, the Director of Northern Lily CIC, gardening in greenhouse.
"When we connect with nature, we appreciate it, and we are more likely to protect it."

A third benefit of nature is that it helps us feel better about where we live, as there is a positive correlation between the amount of quality green space and social and economic impact. Nature enhances the aesthetic value of our urban areas and makes them more attractive for residents, visitors, and investors. It also fosters social cohesion, inclusion, and participation by creating opportunities for people to meet, interact and collaborate.

The GROWE community Orchard is a place where people can come together to enjoy nature, learn new skills, share their knowledge and experience, make new friends, and have fun. It is open to everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ability, or background. It is also supported by various partners who contribute to its development and success.

Nature is part of who we are and what we should value as it is critical to our survival. It connects us to the essentials of life: food, community, leisure, space, connection, seasons, mindfulness and more. When we connect with nature, we appreciate it, and we are more likely to protect it.

As you can see, nature has many positive effects on our lives. It improves our wellbeing, environment, and society in many ways. It also offers us a chance to reconnect with ourselves, each other, and the natural world.

If you are interested in learning more about the GROWE community Orchard or getting involved in its activities, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.