Digging for a Difference

April 16th, 2013

Recently, I’ve been repeatedly sticking a spade in the ground. But there is purpose and meaning to this madness. Honestly.

I’ve been helping get stuck right into the York Get Growing project, a sustainable food project, in a nice way of course, to help them build a Poly-Tunnel round the back of Milthorpe School in York City Centre.

Now I was initially baffled by what a Poly-Tunnel was before I arrived. A quick google search would reveal to me that it’s essentially a plastic greenhouse where you can seemingly get that little bit extra out of your produce each year. It looked rather impressive.

So there I was stood at the school gates at 9:50am on a cold Thursday morning waiting in the car park with some scruffy clothes on comprising of my painting jumper and jeans, for which I have some, a used and abused pair of vans trainers and a wooly bobble hat waiting for my Poly-Tunnel 101 lesson to commence.

Several volunteers, sporting The Conservation Volunteer hoodies, on push bikes rocked up, one of whom had a trailer full of garden tools and utensils. After a brisk introduction and a debrief of what today entailed we set to and carried all the necessary components through the school’s long and bright blue corridors. It was a much healthier looking school than the one I attended in my youth that was dimly lit with purple walls – mmm. But Milthorpe school has been an education establishment that has embraced the greener life – as today proves.

After setting up the site, and with no Groundforce brass band in earshot, we set to by lashing the tape measures out, turf stripping, trenching, forking and a whole host of other interesting gardening delights to get the Poly-Tunnel put up in just a day.

I was only helping out for a couple of hours but I could see the sense of pride already amongst the volunteers. Among those dedicating their time were James and Alice, they’d moved to York last year in search of work but had got involved in projects like this and others to help them integrate into the community and have something worthwhile to do.

Alice had also championed York’s community spirit and said that other places that they’d visited didn’t have an as inviting vibe. So it’s nice to know, as a Community Manager, that there’s good feedback from York’s thriving community.

Those few hours quickly passed and yet it seemed like there was still a lot to do, but I’d learned a lot about the project and the good things that The Conservation Volunteers were doing to the unused spaces around the city’s schools, gardens and other patches of land in need of TLC, with permission of course.

The group have also invited up groups from other cities such as Leicester in order to exchange ideas and show people how fresh things can look.

If you want to learn more about Growing Projects in York or fancy digging with a difference then check out our article on Get Growing York and volunteer today.

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