Its rooftop mini allotments have proven a huge hit, growing from 14 to 24 allotments over the past year. These growing spaces have not only brought people together during a year of adversity, they have also introduced biodiversity to a previously unused space.
Since the centre is overlooked by a tall and imposing residential tower block, with apartments (with small balconies) that are home to many regular shoppers in the local community, the onsite team was inspired to create a place for those who wanted to somewhere to meet other people and grow their own produce in a safe local location. This would especially benefit especially the elderly and more vulnerable as part of the Ridings Centre’s ongoing partnership with AgeUK. From these ideas, the Rooftop Mini Allotment project was born.
Garden creation project inspires local community
The centre team started work, clearing and making the chosen site safe. Then, using re-purposed pallets and unwanted timber left over from a recent tenant fit-out, the team began building the structures, greenhouse and raised planters to ensure those with disabilities, mobility, or health issues could access the space and plants.
All manpower, from creating a clean and safe workspace, building work, to soil and manure moving was completed by the onsite centre teams of Workman LLP, AM Services Group and Bidvest Noonan during a total of 240 working hours.
The initial planting and ongoing care were provided by partners in local community project Grow Wakefield, and people who rent the allotments at an annual fee of £10.
Although the ‘Roof Top Mini Allotment’ began with 14 raised beds, tended by residents and a handful of the centre’s retailers, the demand for planting beds outgrew supply and the ‘Roof Top Mini Allotment’ has now reached 24 beds.
The project is a huge success within the community, with a constant flow of new applications for plots. As a result of this achievement, we are looking to expand the initiative by allocating new or multiple locations within The Ridings.
Local community outreach
Providing additional support to the local community team of home-growers, Grow Wakefield hosts free horticultural classes for those who wish to expand their knowledge of cultivating home-grown food. The allotment area has also become a learning tool for Young Lives Consortium, a local organisation and centre occupier, which uses the space while providing English lessons to the local community. The space also acts as a location, providing inspiration for the many Ridings-based photographers and creatives such as designers, printers and craft makers.
The Rooftop Mini Allotment project has inspired the onsite team, and they plan to introduce more initiatives in future to soften and enhance often-ignored shopping centre spaces.
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