Costs, to date, have been covered by donations from residents and an initial donation from local employer Aviva who, through York Cares, provided a team of 15 volunteers who put in a day's work in March 2014 to clear the garden ready for planting. We had significant funding for fruit trees in place in March 2014, but have been told by the Council we are not allowed to plant any trees on the site until the planning is finalised for a proposed road and bridge that may cut through the park to create access for development of the York Central site.
We have six raised beds, one dedicated to herbs and black and red currants, another filled principally with edible flowering plants: giant globes artichokes, dwarf sunflowers, and bergamot (but also with supremely pollinator friendly flowers, such as Allium sphaerocephalon, Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', and Knautia 'Melton Pastels'). In the four remaining beds in this, our first season, we have grown a mix of edible flowers and fruit and vegetables: peas, strawberries, broad beans, spinach, lettuces, chives, Nasturtiums, calendulas, violas, dwarf purple French beans, runner beans (grown up a teepee with heavily scented heirloom sweet peas), beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, rainbow chard, the fabulous custard white Zucchino, pumpkins, tomatoes, cut and come again lettuces, rocket, cauliflower, beetroot, curly kale, raspberries, celeriac, parsley, cilantro, borage...
We aim to make this a lasting growing project and to expand beyond the 6 raised beds to create further planting to transform this previously neglected park into a beautiful, life-enhancing space for the community to enjoy, prioritising food and sanctuary for beneficial wildlife. Top on the list is to create a community orchard at the park.
The growth of lovely fresh food and flowers has been a delight, but the growth in community that this project has engendered has been the resounding surprising success of the project. The park, previously hardly visited except by dog walkers, is now played in daily by neighbourhood children (who delight in helping with watering and planting and especially in picking their own fresh peas and strawberries); a place where adults come to relax with a book in the sun; even several neighbourhood parties have been held here over the summer.