HATTERSLEY Community Big Garden Project has an exciting three-year plan to transform the rundown site into an oasis at the heart of the community.
The work is already underway driven by Des Clare, chairman of the community interest group he set up to make the vision become a reality.
Des, who has ploughed all his life savings into the project, is looking to raise £20,000 needed to instal basic services – electricity, water and drains.
That will enable to them to kick on and open many more opportunities, especially working with the estate’s four primary schools.
Des said: “After I found the site was having trouble with the previous leaseholders, with the help on Onward Homes and local councillors, we secured the right to take over the lease and safeguard its future for everyone.
“I did not want to lose this little oasis on Hattersley and for it to become another housing development. That is why we set up a community interest company in June 2019 to manage the site.”
And the future security will be a 25-year lease currently being finalised with Tameside Council.
Des, who used his life savings in the first 12 months, has since managed to secure several micro grants.
He said: “If we could get a £20,000 investment, we would be well and truly on our way.
“We need help to get electricity, water and drainage which are the key. Without them it would hold us back.”
The vast polytunnel, which includes 20 plots, a pen containing 32 hens and ducks to help educate children on school visits, small indoor garden centre and soon to be open second-hand jumble shop.
Dave and Lesley Henthorne recently took over the last plot – there is now a waiting list.
“We have a decent garden at home, but it is more grass. I have always wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables,” explained Dave.
Lesley, a teacher at nearby Pinfold Primary, is keen to get children from her school involved.
Plot holder Iain Thomas has even set up his own micro business SK14 Preserves making a wide variety of jams and preserves using his own produce and others which are given to him.
While the inside of the polytunnel is taking shape, there is considerable work to be undertaken outside where there are six additional plots.
There are also plans to create an open air craft market, sensory garden and seated area, woodland classroom, wild picnic meadow and dipping pond.
And they are keen to have a mental health Men In Sheds workshop, learning zone classroom for visiting schools, NHS designed sensory room for which a grant has been obtained to transform a container.
They are also keen to set up a small farm with rescue animals, again for educational purposes with pygmi goats and pot-bellied pigs a possibility.
“Schools want to use the site and potentially a lot of others, maybe referred to us by doctors or the NHS. There is a lot of potential,” explained Des.
There are also plans to erect pods on site to encourage new start-up businesses.
He added the big garden project will also help with the health and mental wellbeing of those involved.
Des said: “After suffering for years with my own mental health problems, I knew there was a need for a quiet place for people to come to.
“We know mental health is a problem around our area, just like the rest of the UK.
“We have set up the garden as a safe place for therapy and education. We can offer somewhere to chat, meet new friends and feel safe. We are not just about gardening.”
Des is delighted with the support the big garden project has received as they have already partnered with local schools, Healthy Hyde, Onward and Jigsaw Homes, Groundwork UK and Fortem.
To make the dream become a reality, more volunteers are needed.
They already have about 30, but there is scope for may more to get involved in this exciting and rewarding project.
Anybody interested in becoming involved can contact Des on 07908 565355 or email firstname.lastname@example.org