Mayfield cultivates community wellbeing

The Mayfield Partnership’s community garden partner – the Green Health Alliance – has revealed new plans to expand the range of activities at the city centre site as part of its contribution to the weekly Plant Powered Sunday vegan food fair.

Activities at Plant Powered Sunday have centred on demonstrations and from each alliance member on topics including; making bird boxes, insect hotels and fairy crowns. Up-coming activities include a celebration of the common stinging nettle (urtica dioica) and alternative uses for lavender.

The weekly schedule of activities is now being added to with the design of a series of unique green and growing spaces at the Baring Street site, including the establishment of an urban allotment which will be made from materials which would otherwise be sent to landfill.

Using harvested rain water from the site, the allotment will demonstrate that people can upcycle everyday objects to create a funky growing space which looks attractive and can produce fruit and vegetables all year round.

Kath Whittaker, who is working for the Green Health Alliance on behalf of the federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, explains the vision behind the garden. She said: “First and foremost we are a green-fingered group but we put an equal amount of focus on using the garden activity to deliver positive social change.

“That’s the key difference between using the Alliance rather than simply having a landscaping contractor design and build and garden.

“The growing metaphor is a very apt one for what we want the garden to achieve. Along with the planting, it is about allowing people to develop by providing them with the space to nurture or discover their passions. We are very fortunate to have found this opportunity in the city and, in the Mayfield Partnership, a partner which shares our belief that meaningful change can be achieved if the opportunities are provided.”

The Alliance aims to achieve a series of outcomes with the volunteers including: increasing self- confidence and self-esteem, reducing social isolation, reducing anxiety and depression, developing new life skills while building new friendships around shared experiences, and increasing knowledge about gardening, healthy eating, growing food and physical activity.

The Green Health Alliance (GHA) is made up of four organisations: Growing in the City/Men’s Shed Project (GITC), Hulme Community Garden Centre (HCGC), Real Food Wythenshawe (RFW) and Debdale Eco Centre (DEC). These four community growing organisations are committed to working across Manchester with some of the most vulnerable communities, connecting people and places to nature and improving health and mental wellbeing outcomes for all.

The Green Health Alliance is being supported at Mayfield by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG), a charity which supports community growing projects across the UK to create better, friendly, healthier communities. FCFCG will provide expert guidance and advice.

The re-opening of the Baring Street site is being driven by the Mayfield Development Partnership – a joint venture between Manchester City Council, LCR, Transport for Greater Manchester and mixed-use property regeneration specialist U+I.

The Partnership’s long-term plan for Mayfield is to create an iconic, £850m mixed-use community over the next 10 years, including commercial, residential and leisure facilities. The 24-acre site, next to Piccadilly Station, has been derelict for over a decade.

The wider Mayfield regeneration vision will potentially provide 1,300 homes, 75,000 sq m of office space, a 350-bedroom hotel, retail and leisure facilities and a new city park, creating over 7,500 office, retail, leisure and construction jobs.

The long-term proposals will seek to enhance many of the site’s historic features including developing and improving the River Medlock, which flows through the site. The intention is to maintain the historic buildings on the site and make the most of the area’s built heritage.

U+I was formally appointed as the development partner for Mayfield in December 2016 while the temporary use for the site was granted planning consent in April 2017.

The new community and workspace facilities have been designed by architect Studio Egret West, master planners to the project.

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