During the proceedings of the Open Day at Stank Hall Barn, Old Hall and New Hall in the Summer of 2013 the Friends asked for suggestions from visiting members of the public and local community representatives for an interim use project for the Stank Hall Barn Site. Further ideas and information were given during the running of a stall by the Friends at Beeston Festival in 2013 when we collected more information from members of the local communities, and as a result of this we proposed to Leeds City Council that we would launch with a small community grow scheme and Incredible Edible Project,initially in the security fenced area and field around the barn.
From the information gathered in the initial stages of community consultation, there is a great deal of support for the Friends in their intention to put forward practical working schemes to revitalise the Stank Halls and Barn site in the short term ahead of longer term solutions being worked up. People are angry and ashamed at the current state of dereliction on the site and frequently point out that if the site were not in Beeston they feel that things would never have been permitted to become this bad.
Many of the residents of the Parkwood Estate, the Cardinals Estate and other residential areas around the barn have family connections to the area going back several generations and have fond memories of the site as a working farm and later as council accommodation for several families, including those with connections tothe working farm.
Many members of the local community tell us that they are in or approaching food poverty and wish to acquire the skills to grow their own food, but have been unable to obtain or afford allotment space which is easily accessible to them. There is a perception amongst Parkwood residents that with a Parkwood address it is difficult to obtain an allotment locally. This is due to the alleged bad reputation surrounding residents of the estate.
We have chosen to follow the Incredible Edible grow plan, due to the success and support of such existing schemes within Yorkshire and nationally and feel that the model for these schemes has proven to be a success. Their motto: ‘if you eat –you’re in’ demonstrates the wide appeal of the Incredible Edible approach to community food growing projects. We also have support for our scheme from Groundwork, Feed Leeds and other local organisations such as Kirkstall Community Garden and Hollybush TCV.
We are keen to work in partnership with these organisations as they are competent and experienced in working with communities to develop skills.
Together we aim to promote and support food growing in Leeds for its economic,social, environmental and health benefits.
We understand that the City Council are looking at long term plans for the site and appreciate that we may need to vacate the site to accommodate this. In the meantime we propose this meanwhile use could continue in principle
indefinitely. At this stage we are planning for more than one growing season.
Following initial consultation with Leeds City Council on the sensitivity of the site given that it is a Scheduled Monument protected by the AMA ACT 1979, we are keen to avoid any ground disturbance. A plan of the understood archaeological areas and building platforms provided by Leeds City Council is attached as Enclosure #1.Raised beds, garden plan:
In response to these requirements Ms Dawn Wood of the Friends Group has drawn up a detailed plan for a grow garden of raised beds of an early medieval garden which would be completely in keeping with the 13th/14th style of the earliest standing structure on the Stank Hall Site, being the garderobe wall and Old Hall internal timber frame, and it is planned that these raised beds could be moved around the site to allow access for any archaeological work required at any time by Leeds City Council.
An outline plan of part of the site planting drawn out by Ms Wood is attached as Enclosure #2.
Beds will be 20-50cm deep.
We have had wood offered for the building of raised beds and more wood is available cheaply from a local timber yard. We will be pursuing donations of compost for the Year 1 grow – by Year 2 we are hoping that the local support for composting in bins on the site will mean that we will be providing a great deal of our own composting resource.
We will initially require: fleece, trays, pots, plastic grow houses, trowels, spades,buckets, compost bins.
It is the intention of the Friends in the first year of the grow scheme to encourage fast grown easy food crops such as potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans and peas,beetroot and onions which will be free to members of the local community. We have also had donations in the latter part of 2013 of seed packets of garden flower crops
which members of the local community would like to see grown on site as a decorative crop, and some community members are already growing seedlings in their own homes to donate to the project in the Spring of 2014.
By year 2 (2015) it is the intention of the Friends group to move forward with the planning and execution of a small raised bed sensory garden onsite which has been put forward as a request by local community members supporting individuals with Alzheimers and Autism and which would be visited and in some cases worked on by
members of those communities and their carers.
Outputs and outcomes:
The scheme will provide an opportunity to connect to others in the community -reducing isolation and exclusion.
The scheme will provide the opportunity to improve a local green space together. Growing seeds off site home/school) as well as on site will ensure those who cannot access the site due to ill health/disability/time constraints etc. can still take part in the scheme and feel included.
Improved Health and well being::
Better physical health will be achieved through healthy eating and exercise. Better mental health will be achieved
through a sense of purpose and achievement. Feelings of isolation/exclusion and stress will be reduced through community gardening.
Training & learning opportunities:
The scheme will provide an opportunity to learn new skills and build self esteem – improving the employment prospects of local people. The scheme will provide an opportunity for local school children to participate in a
community led scheme outside of the classroom whilst learning about gardening/nature.
The scheme will improve a neglected green space. It will reduce incidents of vandalism by a more visible on site
presence and by changing attitudes (because of the local community engagement). It will increase biodiversity/wildlife e.g.bees, other insects, birds, bats, frogs/toads and small mammals such as hedgehogs.
The scheme will reduce food poverty in the local community. It will provide free access to a ‘green gym’in a less affluent part of Leeds. It will provide free access to learning/skills development in a less affluent part of
Leeds. It will improve employment prospects of local people.