This week, 23rd July – 1st August, is Love Parks Week, a campaign run by charity Keep Britain Tidy. The campaign aims to show appreciation of the parks and green spaces across the country as well as share quick ways people can get more enjoyment out of green spaces.
For Love Parks Week we spoke to Emma Carter, a Senior Project Officer at Offshoots Community Garden in Towneley Park, Burnley. Emma’s job revolves around green spaces and caring for them.
Offshoots is a unique and thriving organic fruit and vegetable garden inside Townley Park. No day is the same working here. Volunteers help maintain the garden three days a week and this can be anyone from college students to retired adults. We also have people with learning disabilities work with us or some people volunteer simply to learn a little bit more about gardening.
Since the pandemic started Offshoots has become even more important. It is a peaceful haven that is buzzing with natural wildlife. Everyone here loves it, whether it’s for a walk around or to spend hours volunteering to help look after the place.
Beyond Offshoots, the pandemic has shown that parks and green spaces are so important for physical and mental wellbeing. Without even realising it, parks can make you feel fitter and healthier just by breathing in fresh air and taking a moment for yourself. Parks are vital to our health and happiness.
Now that green spaces are more popular than ever, respecting them and those who work there is vital. So much time and care goes into maintaining Offshoots in order to keep it beautiful and open for everyone to enjoy. I hope that when people enjoy wildflowers and wildlife at Offshoots they have a greater appreciation for nature and the people who maintain it. I think letting people enjoy nature up close gives people more respect for nature and what it takes to protect it.
This week, and every week, people love Offshoots because it is a safe, welcoming, and beautiful corner of a much loved and visited park. Volunteering here gives people a sense of purpose and they can see and feel the direct benefit of their actions. Here is what volunteers and visitors had to say:
John, 57, a weekly Offshoots volunteer, said, “Offshoots is a haven of tranquillity and it’s been really valuable to be here and spend time with all kinds of different people, be in the garden, hands in the soil, and feel sane in the storm of collective mayhem this past year.”
Stephen, 63, Offshoots volunteer, said being outdoors has helped him through the pandemic, “It’s something to do that I enjoy and because I come three times a week, I look forward to getting up on these days. I feel less vulnerable at Offshoots than down-town or indoors, it’s a safe haven.”
If you would like to find out more about Offshoots you can visit: https://www.newground.co.uk/environmental-education/offshoots/
If you would like to find out more about the Love Parks campaign you can visit: https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/get-involved/support-our-campaigns/love-parks-week