Enthusiastic Byker residents are getting ready for a brand new project. They are excited about the opportunity to take on a derelict plot of land and a former pigeon loft on Byker Bank. They will make it a safe space for residents to grow healthy food, and use it for holiday activities with local children. Any surplus food will be distributed through Byker Mutual Aid.
The background to Byker Community Planting
The project is led by Northern Cultural Projects, which aims to foster transformative community history and culture. During the pandemic the group started Byker Community Planting as a resident-led initiative to inspire and involve residents of all ages and from different ethnic communities to get growing. NCP Director Silvie Fisch is herself a Byker resident.
The group is grateful to Jane Stafford, who runs the Ship Inn, for the opportunity to use the piece of land on Byker Bank. Residents have already made a start cleaning up the old pigeon loft. Hard work but fun!
The site has never been used for growing and needs quite a bit of work done before it can open up to members of the community and other groups. The first steps in this new project are removing rubble and dead growth from the site and installing raised beds and pathways.
Byker residents know that many neighbours have to deal with complex life challenges. Poverty rates are high (42% relative poverty amongst children in 2021). They also know from experience that there is always substantial demand for free food. This project will build on existing knowledge and experience to
- involve residents of all ages and from different ethnic communities in outdoor activities
- reduce isolation and further community cohesion
- give them choice and agency
- enable them to learn new skills
- improve their physical and mental wellbeing offer paid sessional work to residents
- reduce food poverty
Response from the local community
The idea has been warmly welcomed by the community. Responses include:
“Amazing! Can’t wait to see what you do with it!”
“Give me a shout also if you need volunteers. Great project.”
“This is amazing and I love the idea. It will be such a great safe space for the community.!
“Fantastic idea. I’d love the opportunity to buy home grown produce in the future if possible please.”
How can you support Byker Community Planting?
The group has started a crowdfunding page for those who would like to help financially.