In 2007, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT) offered The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) a piece of land situated in the middle of the garden village of New Earswick, York, as a garden and allotment, with the emphasis on sustainability, for use by the community. This is now known as New Earswick Sleeper Path Community Garden.
A team of volunteers set about the task of clearing the land, building pathways, raised beds and creating a pond and dipping platform. Fencing and a gate were erected around the pond; fruit trees and hedging were planted and beds were filled with compost and soil.
New Earswick Sharing Together (NEST) became involved with the continuing development and maintenance of the Sleeper Path site in 2010. At that time, NEST was a local community group consisting of about 7 members, with the emphasis on engaging with the community, sharing skills and knowledge and making friends, whilst also creating an awareness of sustainability.
In addition, NEST also took over the maintenance of the Raised Bed outside the Folk Hall. They repaired the bed, cleared the weeds, added more soil and compost and planted it with heavy cropping fruit, salads and vegetables. Folk Hall users were encouraged to weed and help themselves to a little free produce and the Folk Hall used the produce in their kitchen as well. This bed has now been dismantled because of the changes to the Folk Hall.
The Sleeper Path site is now thriving, thanks to the hard work and dedication of NEST members and volunteers from the community. Most of the Sleeper Path site is now accessible by wheelchair and is used regularly by people with mobility problems. An extra area has been added to the original garden where the main focus is the growing of fruit. Produce is sold during the summer months to enable us to continue to look after the garden. Children are especially welcome although we ask that they be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times. Local scout, cub and beaver groups use the garden in the evenings and plant an assortment of vegetables and flowers.
Our members also work with local school children to help them understand where food comes from and the importance of looking after the environment. We take part in the JRHT Homestead open day in September; last year we made bee boxes for children to take home and use in their garden.