POSTPONED: Hull gardening project to bring back local nature

Press release
Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank join forces to breathe life back into thousands of nature-deprived spaces across the country
  Published:  07 Jun 2024    |      5 minute read
  • Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank have joined forces to breathe life back into thousands of nature-deprived spaces across the country, including in Orchard Park in Hull
  • A new ‘Postcode Gardener’ will work with food and fuel poverty charity EMS Yorkshire and the local community to help green the area, while fostering community spirit and connection with nature
  • ***An event at which the project was due to launch tomorrow (11 June) has now been postponed, and is being rescheduled to Tuesday 9 July 2024***

The launch event of a new community gardening project in Hull, due to take place tomorrow at the Hope Allotment in Sir Henry Cooper Park, has been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.

Hosted by the food and fuel poverty alleviation charity EMS Yorkshire, the event introducing a new ‘Postcode Gardener’ to Orchard Park – John Pickles – will now take place on Tuesday 9 July 2024.

The new role has been secured as part of a nationwide scheme being rolled out by Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank, which seeks to rejuvenate 1,000 neglected spaces across the country and bring communities with little access to nature closer to the health and wellbeing benefits it can provide. The new Postcode Gardener will work with local people to encourage nature back into Orchard Park and support the community and wildlife to thrive.

John, who is already the project manager for the allotment, hopes to inspire and engage with the local community. As Postcode Gardener, he will oversee a two-and-a-half-year project with EMS Yorkshire which aims to increase biodiversity in Orchard Park.

An effort to ‘wild the ward’ will see nature brought to 50 new spots locally through the installation of planters and bird boxes, planting of bushes and trees, and the creation of mini meadow areas for wildlife habitats. He will work alongside a number of stakeholders including Sirius Academy North, Hull City Council, Humberside Police, Rewilding Youth and many other schools, clubs, faith organisations and community groups. 

John Pickles, Postcode Gardener for Orchard Park, said:

“I am very excited to be leading this project to help bring nature back into people’s lives and foster a stronger sense of community in the local area. As recent times have emphasised, getting out in green spaces and connecting with others is vital for improving our physical and mental wellbeing.  

“I want this project to create a space for socialising and collaboration. We already have ideas about what we’d like to do to ‘wild the ward’, but we are interested to hear local people’s ideas about what they want to see in their neighbourhood, rather than simply imposing our own plans. At the very least, we will be undertaking biodiversity surveys in June to establish what wildlife we have already such as bumblebees and earthworms.  

“I hope many people will join us to hear all about our plans and have their say on how we can best serve the needs of the local community. It’s already clear that we have huge support locally for this project and I look forward to working with the many community groups, schools, and local organisations that have thrown their weight behind it.”  

Research from Friends of the Earth shows that one in five people in England live in nature-deprived areas, including a staggering 1.6 million children under the age of 12. Moreover, people of colour are disproportionately affected by nature loss, and are nearly three times more likely to live in areas with limited access to green or wild spaces. Orchard Park was identified as an area where the community would greatly benefit from a greener environment. 

By reclaiming and nurturing public areas for community growing, it’s hoped the new Postcode Gardener can help to unlock the many advantages of greener neighbourhoods. Not only do they support wildlife to flourish and thrive - providing more habitats for animals and attracting much-needed pollinators into urban areas - they also help to reduce air pollution and protect communities from the impacts of climate change. What’s more, nature is known to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.  

Tuesday’s event will be an opportunity to bring together the people of Orchard Park for a shared experience of gardening, learning and celebration. The event will be family friendly, with a particular focus on attracting young people to attend, who will be invited to take part in activities such as planting sunflowers, making paper plant pots, building bug hotels and digging a new pond. 

Catherine Douglas, Chief People & Sustainability Officer at The Co-operative Bank, said:

“We’re thrilled to be working with Friends of the Earth, taking positive steps to reverse the decline in biodiversity in communities across the country.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the community in Orchard Park benefit from the Postcode Gardener scheme. We hope it will create meaningful, lasting change in their community.”   

Rianna Gargiulo, Postcode Gardener programme lead at Friends of the Earth, said:  

“It’s really exciting to be embedding a new Postcode Gardener in Orchard Park, which we’ve identified as one of the areas that would most benefit from this initiative nationwide.  

“We’re thrilled to see our pioneering Postcode Gardeners programme expanding to new locations around the country with support from The Co-operative Bank, and to Orchard Park with our local delivery partners EMS Yorkshire. Bit by bit, we hope to rejuvenate 1,000 depleted spaces nationwide, reconnecting communities with nature and each other.  

“Making Hull a little greener brings us one step closer to building the healthier, happier and more harmonious world we know to be possible.”  

Notes to editors: 

1. About EMS Yorkshire: EMS Ltd are a food and fuel poverty alleviation charity who run an affordable food shop in east Hull. They cook and distribute 300 ready-meals a week across the city as well as distributing surplus supermarket food across the city. They run cooking-on-a-budget sessions and gardening workshops at schools and community centres. Since 2009 EMS has set up and overseen development of 10 allotments and growing spaces across east, west and central Hull. They also distribute and install water butts for Living With Water and wooden planters made at HMP Hull. To learn more please visit: EMS Yorkshire.

2. Friends of the Earth announced its new partnership with The Co-operative Bank in June 2023. Together, they are embarking on a mission to bring back nature to 1,000 nature-deprived spaces across the country. To learn more please visit: Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank join forces | June 2023 

3. Friends of the Earth first launched its Postcode Gardener programme in 2018, embedding gardeners in two locations – Hackney in London and Bideford in Devon. Following the success of these pilot projects, Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank are working together to roll out Postcode Gardeners at a number of new locations.

4. To read more about the Postcode Gardeners scheme, please visit: Planting more Postcode Gardeners to create greener streets.

About The Co-operative Bank: The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement. The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led Ethical Policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used.  Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on six occasions, with new commitments added in June 2022 to cover how the bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and the issues it supports and campaigns on.