Parish garden project scoops prestigious North West in Bloom awardTuesday 8th November 2022
A parish garden project that strives to live out the teachings of Laudato Si’ has received a prestigious award.
The Bee Together Community Centre and Garden – based at The Parish of the Nativity in Failsworth and Limeside – has received recognition from the RHS North West in Bloom competition for its pioneering project.
Located behind Holy Family RC Church in Hollinwood, Oldham, the Bee Together Community Centre and Garden has been a labour of love for dedicated volunteers over the past three years.
Beginning life in September 2019, the project began when parish priest Canon Michael Job approached parishioner Pauline Riley about embarking on a project that would respond to Pope Francis’ call to ecological conversion in his groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’.
At that time, Bishop John also announced plans to transform the grounds at his residence at Wardley Hall into the Laudato Si’ Centre – a flagship project to educate and inspire others to take effective action on climate change.
Pauline Riley, parishioner and project coordinator, visited the centre to help kickstart the parish project.
She said: “The Diocese of Salford had just commenced a Laudato Si’ garden project in the grounds of Bishop John’s abode at Wardley Hall. It was suggested I went to visit, there was lots of work in progress and I picked up ideas for our project and I was given lots of contacts, which proved very fruitful.
“The project coordinator also visited our garden in order for him to give us practical advice.”
From then on, work began to recruit volunteers and begin a fundraising initiative, the success of which transformed the patch of overgrown, neglected land into a haven of natural beauty and biodiversity.
Home to vegetable patches, fruit trees, wildflower areas, a magnificent willow structure, and hideaways for all kinds of wildlife, the Bee Community Garden has become a place of refuge and vibrant hub for the parish, local school, and wider community, hosting a number of events and gatherings, including a celebration for the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
One key attraction is the garden’s beehives. Home to around 150,000 bees, the hives are thriving, producing 50 x 8oz jars of honey in both 2021 and 2022. The honey is then sold to wider community, helping to raise much-needed funds for the project.
Pauline said: “All our garden produce is shared with the community, the taste is something special and of course the air miles are zero, helping to reduce our carbon footprint and thereby helping in the fight against climate change.”
Thanks to the support of dedicated volunteers, experienced advisers and generous funders (including Action Together Oldham, The Tree Council, The Tree Station, First Choice Homes, Oldham’s Green Dividend, The Forever Manchester, Awards for All), the Community Garden has continued to thrive and develop, leading volunteers to enter a prestigious competition.
Pauline said: “This year, we decided to enter the RHS Northwest in Bloom – the thought being to receive much needed advice on how we progress.
“To our delight and amazement we won recognition and were awarded the certificate of Level 4 Thriving, (level 5 being the best as outstanding).”
Canon Michael Job, parish priest at the Parish of the Nativity, is eager to congratulate and thank all of the volunteers who have worked so hard on the project.
He said: “Without the volunteers, the dream I had would have remained just that, a dream. With their help however, we have been able to move from a concept to a reality and for this I am grateful to each and everyone that has contributed their quota to making our community a living example of what the Pope encouraged in his encyclical Laudato Si’.
“The journey towards responding to climate change is still a long one, but little steps are better than none at all.
“May the Lord continue to stay with us on our journey towards making our common home a better place.”