3. Projects supported by Get Oldham Growing
Lees ECO Hub
Lees Eco Hub is the fourth Hub opened with the support of Get Oldham Growing.
The Hub opened in March 2018 and is managed by Alan Price who runs a social enterprise – Athene Environmental.
Although very new the Hub has so far hosted some DIY sessions run by Lifelong Learning where local people have learnt decorating skills by decorating the pavilion; held a pop up café; provided volunteering opportunities for local people – the Hub now has 5 people regularly volunteering - and has started running family sessions, bringing parents and children together to grow in the outdoors.
When the Hub is open (Thursday afternoons, all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons) the toilets in the park are also opened as they are in the pavilion run by the Hub. This brings more people into the park which in turn helps people using the park to feel safer.
Alan says he is proud that ‘the community are all on board with it now. We never hear anyone complain about it, everyone comes in & it’s positive comments. The Council say they’ve never seen the park so busy. Vandalism is down as well, people are taking ownership of it‘.
In the long term Alan would like install solar panels and take the site off-grid, attract even more volunteers and hopes that by summer next year the Hub will be full of schools and businesses.
Lees ECO Hub can be found at Kingsley Drive, Lees, OL4 3JW.
Failsworth Growing Hub
Failsworth Growing Hub is the third Growing Hub opened with the support of Get Oldham Growing. The Hub mainly opens on Thursdays and is situated within the grounds of Failsworth Town Hall, right next to the canal.
The group’s latest annual report says
‘’Failsworth Growing Hub began as a community garden created on an unused triangle of land by a small group of volunteers in spring 2016.
It was transformed in spring 2017 when the group’s aims to make the garden accessible to all became a reality thanks to Oldham Council. The ground was resurfaced so that mobility scooters, wheelchairs and baby buggies move around freely. We gained more planters including raised planters with good quality soil and more growing space along the canal. …
During the growing season in 2017 we grew a wide range of fruit and vegetables over the year: strawberries, tomatoes, peas, beans, courgettes, potatoes, carrots, onions, beetroot, kale, broccoli, lettuce, salad leaves, radishes, leeks, chillies, garlic and a range of herbs. We also have young fruit trees developing: apple, pear, plum, cherry and soft fruit bushes settling in: raspberry, gooseberry, blackcurrant, chokeberry. And don’t let’s forget the flowers: the primulas and daffodils which are a lovely sight.
Given the space available our plan has been to grow variety not big quantities, so that all the volunteers gain experience of different crops and to make it interesting and Informative for the general public who walk round the Hub.‘’
The group are proud that ‘’we’ve got so much stuff that’s growing, we’re still learning and helping each other – we never stop learning something new… The main thing is getting people together‘’
Failsworth Growing Hub can be found in the grounds of Failsworth Town Hall on Oldham Rd, Failsworth, M35 0FJ.
Westwood Community Initiative
Cook for Health; a community cooking programme that educates and trains people in alternative cooking methods and how to cook with reduced salt, fat and sugar contents. Participants will be equipped with the practical skills to change how they cook in order to improve their health and that of their families.
Fatima Women’s Association
Pressure Perfect Health; the purpose of this project is to improve healthy eating prevalence and increase knowledge of growing foods and vegetables. This learning will be embedded into a programme of sessions that will also improve confidence and self-esteem whilst reducing isolation and building social networks.
Firwood and District Residents Association
Firwood Community Garden Project; the development of a communal garden and growing space for people of all ages in Chadderton. Children and adults will engage in a variety of small scale projects including food growing and making improvements that will encourage wildlife to return to the area.
The Rangers Foundation for Youth & Community in the Environment
The Rangers group work with local residents, schools and charities to further develop a community garden which encourage people to grow fresh food and live more healthily. By promoting local volunteering and opportunities to get involved in growing they continue to establish the Fullwood site as a valuable community space.
Alexandra Park Hub Recipe Book
Veg In The Park
Veg in the Park is a community-led Growing Hub sited on a disused bowling green in Waterhead Park. The Hub was developed by a partnership which included Environmental Services, Get Oldham Growing and community members who, with the support of Action Together and IF Oldham, later developed into a formal group known as Veg in the Park or VIP. The group, under leading volunteer Caroline Lawson, took on informal management of the scheme in 2015 and have gone from strength to strength.
Since 2016 the number of regular volunteers on the site has risen from 7 to 25 with around 64 volunteers dropping in and out over the last 2 years. Although most volunteers are local there have been volunteers from as far away as Preston, Cornwall and even New Delhi visiting family in the area. Caroline estimates that volunteers give at least 120 hours a week to the project over the summer months.
The Hub has hosted several events including a food festival; a launch event for Real Junk Food Oldham; Hallowe’en, birthday and Easter parties and has also been the base for training sessions in wreath making and bikeability. VIP regularly hosts sessions involving youth groups , community groups and schools. Some businesses have also had volunteer away days on the site.
VIP have worked with the Well North team and Thriving Communities to fund a new portacabin which is due to be in place in autumn 2018. The cabin will have room for a shop, a café, toilet facilities and a meeting room which can be rented out, helping the Hub become sustainable.
Caroline says she is proud of
…’‘ My volunteers & what we’ve achieved, that people who were so negative about VIP – local residents – are now praising us. I’m proud of myself because I think it’s a big achievement for someone with no experience of doing a community group (to do this) but I have a good team around me.’’
Veg in the Park (VIP) is located within Waterhead Park which can be found off Herbert St, Waterhead, Oldham, OL4 2QX