The Project was initially called "The Walled Garden Project", and started operating in 1995. Up until 2010, the group worked in these gardens alongside the Council park gardeners. we helped with all the gardening tasks such as weeding, wood chipping, helping to build bonfires and even tree surgery. We also worked in the greenhouses helping to pot up plants for all the parks, gardens and offices around the city.
In 1998 we helped to convert the greenhouses into the Safari Walk.
In 2002 we helped create the “Gardens of the World” display in one of the greenhouses for the Commonwealth Games. We were involved from the planning stage and provided most of the labour.
Another major refurbishment that we have been involved in was helping to build the pergola in the gardens, which included learning how to mix and lay concrete. We were also involved in helping to set up the bee keeping area.
When the permanent establishment of a gardening team came to an end in the park, our emphasis changed and our group began to work in the walled garden creating an allotment area. This had to be done from scratch digging out all the beds so that fruit and vegetables could be grown. The allotment has been a resounding success story and has given our members great pride in our achievements. We have been able to see the whole process of growing from start to finish and were able to take some of the fruit and vegetables home to eat.
We were able to sell some of our produce in the shop which ran in conjunction with the Community Farm. Eventually the Project ran the shop ourselves and this proved to be very popular with the local community. The group even made £2,500 from sales. Unfortunately the shop was eventually closed in 2008 which was a great shame as it gave the group great community presence and provided an excellent opportunity to learn new skills.
The Project has established good links with both the Stables and the Farm and at one time a couple of our group worked in the café for a short period.
Our group have also worked in partnership with Business in the Community on several projects, with the Princes Trust, Future Jobs Fund, Groundwork and the Probation Service. The group also had a contract with Manchester City Football Club for a year, providing plants and filling the planters around the stadium.
Members of the project have also worked alongside members of the Allotment Society and helped to create a garden at Tatton Show where we were able to showcase their work. We have been part of winning an award for best Show Feature Garden for two years in a row.
The project was also involved in the BBC Springwatch in 2008 and we were interviewed on radio as part of this. The Walled Garden was designated a “Breathing Space” area as part of the programme.
Our group won Team of the Year and in 2012 won an Award for Commitment from North Trafford College for supporting their students on work placements.
Most of the our group have gained Level 1 NVQ in Horticulture and some have been able to progress to full time employment or other types of voluntary work. The project could be an excellent resource for assessing people’s suitability for employment.
Our customers and staff members are fully committed to making the project work and have a great feeling of ownership towards it, to the point that staff members dedicate their own time at weekends and holidays in the summer months to ensure that watering tasks are undertaken in the greenhouses.
Eventually we were asked to take over an area in the Horticultural Centre which needed more TLC, and with this we changed the name of our group to “THE HALL LANE HORTICULTURAL PROJECT “.
We set out to revive the area by putting in new beds and rotavating the old ones, giving an abundance of fresh produce which we now pass on to the farm so they can sell it on. We are very interested in getting people from Hall Lane Day Centre involved and as a result of the involvement we also now work on the Alpine House which gives a chance for a group from Hall Lane to join the park group. Before this it was left to rack and ruin and you can really see the transformation that the guys have accomplished.
In 2014 we were entered in the NORTH WEST IN BLOOM competition and proudly won a SILVER GILT award which we added to our already impressive award wall, we are happy to say that we helped to secure a further SILVER GILT (Thriving) in 2015.
Everyone who visits and works on the project comes away feeling very positive about it and it’s potential. It is a valuable resource with much room for development. Much work has been done over the past few years and this work could continue to be built on. Recently it was part of a successful lottery bid with various other agencies.
We have had a good five years under our belts and the project is the better for it hopefully we can beat the Gold awards from North West in bloom that we won in 2018, so here’s to the future and the hope that our project goes from strength to strength.