A special first year for Norwich’s Grapes Hill Community Gardens
It has been quite a first year for Norwich's Grapes Hill Community Garden.
After first being opened in July 2011, the former derelict site has flourished into a green space to be enjoyed by all.
A steady stream of award have come the way of the project's organisers, the latest of which they were presented last week.
The five winners of the Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards were revealed at a ceremony in the Abbey Conference Centre, in Bracondale, Norwich last Tuesday
The Grapes Hill Community Garden scooped the top prize in the group award for its work to create green space in the heart of Norwich.
It caps a remarkable first year for the project, accessed via Valentine Street, following on from claiming a Green Flag Award earlier this month - which is widely regarded as the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the United Kingdom.
While in March the garden was commended in the Eco Community Group category of the Norwich Eco Awards and chairman of the project, Jeremy Bartlett, received the Eco Hero award for work there and at The Belvedere Centre on Belvoir Street.
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Group secretary, Fran Ellington, was delighted with the latest award and the speedy progress that the project has made overall.
She said: 'We are not like a municipal park, we are very different to somewhere like a Chapelfield Gardens, we use recycled materials and compost all our materials so they (Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership) were really impressed.
'The Green Flag Award is given to green spaces but the biodiversity award reflects that we have over 200 species of plants and now have a huge amount of insects, birdlife, butterflies and dragonflies.'
Mr Bartlett leads a planning sub-committee for the gardens which has seen a large number of edible plants, as well as fruit trees and bushes, over 30 varieties of herbs, vegetables and plants with edible flowers, such as French marigolds and day lilies.
The garden has a small apple orchard, fan-trained cherries and fig, plum, apricot, raspberries and blackberries all growing - a huge change from the former derelict site of two years ago.
Mrs Ellington continued: 'I've been involved in the project since the start but other people have come on board and have become absolutely essential to us.
'We have lots of volunteers that turn out regularly and always help out at fundraisers and events. There is more than a normal handful of people and we seem to be constantly attracting new people from all walks of life.
'We still need to reach out though. We have been supported by the police and the city council in particular in trying to improve the image of the area.
'It's a high crime area so some people think it's not for them but we've not had any vandalism or anything that should put people off.
'We have tried really hard to open up the gardens for everyone. People living in the Douro Place old people's home often wander down and have their lunch and It is for everybody in Norwich.'
For more information about the project, go to grapeshillcommunitygarden.org
- The Norwich Evening News will be taking an in-depth look at the other Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards winners in forthcoming weeks.
- Are you involved in a project to improve your community? Call reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or firstname.lastname@example.org