Sustainability 19 January 2023
The Helix Team Garden: Year 1
It was decided, early in 2022, to create some raised beds to give staff space to ‘grow their own’ vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Some of the team don’t have their own gardens, so this was seen as an opportunity to give them experience of gardening, some of them for the first time and to gain the mental health benefits from this. A spot just outside the visitor centre was chosen for easy access.
Old fence posts that used to protect the hedging throughout the park until it was established was re-purposed to create the beds. Our gardener Garry built them in a remarkably short time!
Seeds were planted during one of our Wellness Wednesday sessions, giving all team members the chance to participate in the project.
The parks team led a willow weaving session on another Wellness Wednesday, so willows cut from The Helix provided the support for climbing plants such as runner beans and sweet peas while a vertical cold frame gave shelter to delicate seedlings.
Our potatoes peas and courgettes were particularly successful, and like more seasoned gardeners, we struggled to use all of the produce. The peas, however, were eaten straight from the pod, the only proper way to enjoy them.
We weren’t successful with everything we tried, and a few rookie errors won’t be repeated next year. Who knew courgettes needed so much space?
Overall, we’re pleased with our first year and are already planning next year’s planting, some of which we want to use in our visitor centre’s café, with seasonal soups.
It wasn’t all about food though, flowers attract pollinators, add colour and are just lovely to have in a garden.
Our sunflowers were the ‘talk of the town’ for a few weeks in late summer (reaching almost 8ft tall), making appearances on social media, and are now providing food for animals and birds around the park over the autumn and winter months. Some of the seeds were collected and will be replanted in the spring.