Darwen gardening group continues to grow

Whitehall Park Supporters Group aim to use gardening as a way of bringing people together. Thanks to a community grant from Newground Together the group has been able to grow.

The group started when they began to work on a section of the park that was overgrown and underused. They started to plant a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables for members of their gardening club and the local community.

They aimed to create a space where people could come together over their shared love of gardening and have worked with Lancashire Wildlife Trust to show people the relaxing power of gardening. The group also works with Darwen Asylum Refugee Enterprise to encourage asylum seekers to join as many are isolated when moving to a new country and the group provides a supportive local network.

With the community grant, more people have been supported to attend as the funding helped to pay for members’ travel costs. Now there is an orchard consisting of 27 fruit trees, more raised beds to expand the amount of produce grown, and the space is even used as an outdoor classroom for primary schools; a project developed with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Eissa, an asylum seeker who became a member of the gardening club, said, “Being able to attend the gardening club, and bringing all of my family, means a lot to me. To go there and to be active is so refreshing; it stimulates not only our bodies but also our minds. We value it immensely. “

Marjan said: “Our project brings people together who would – without it- never have met or got to know each other. Working alongside each other, friendships are developed, cultures are exchanged and people feel connected with one-another. Members learn and exchange skills in gardening, cooking and construction.

“The sense of wellbeing derived from the club is overwhelming: the joy of working outside, of contributing to our community and of having a sense of purpose. Gardening can also give much needed structure to your life as well as helping you appreciate the little things. It really is enjoyable to watch nature grow slowly over time and enjoy your hard work paying off – whether that is beautiful flowers or tasty fresh produce!”