Senior business people in Longbridge have donned their gardening gloves in support of a community gardening project which will see parts of Longbridge train station transformed into a ‘community garden’.
The initiative, entitled ‘Wild Longbridge’, has been launched by Longbridge Public Art Project (LPAP) and is being delivered in partnership with Northfield Ecocentre and London Midland to explore how planting, growing and eating can be a shared activity that enhances built and social environments.
Senior business people get their hands dirty
Representatives from leading companies based at Longbridge, including St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist and developers behind the £1 billion Longbridge project; Marks & Spencer, which opened its largest store in the Midlands in November last year; Boots Pharmacy and London Midland, current rail operators at Longbridge train station, all gave up part of their afternoon last month to help clear existing scrub land and plant a new wildflower meadow.
‘Gateway to Longbridge’
Mike Murray, development director at St. Modwen, said: “The train station is, for many, the gateway to Longbridge – it’s the first impression people get when they arrive. Yet until LPAP and its team of volunteers started work a few weeks ago, the station embankments were surrounded by overgrown hedges and scrub, offering little in the way of colour, and were simply unattractive to visitors.
“Coming here today, it’s already clear to see just how much work has been done to clear the site, and the new wildflower meadow we have helped plant today will begin to enhance the station through colour and nature providing a real focal point for people arriving at Longbridge – I look forward to watching the changes unfold as the project continues, and the community come together to adopt this station as their own.”
Art, design, ecology, community
Over the last four years, the LPAP project – which is being delivered by social arts organisation WERK and supported by developer St. Modwen – has developed a diverse portfolio of projects in response to Longbridge. Exploring both the area’s heritage and its future, the project has hosted over 135 events, including an International light & art festival.
Artist Cathy Wade, who is leading the work at Longbridge train station as part of her ongoing LPAP residency, said “Wild Longbridge proposes that we can change the landscape we commute in, such as a train station, through the creation of a community garden. This project will develop through a series of art, design and ecology events that blend planting and growing as landscaping and art.”
Michael Addison, Director of Northfield Ecocentre, said: “We are excited to start a journey of creative urban planting and food growing across Longbridge as part of our wider ‘Incredible Edible’ longer term project in the area.”
Mark Fruin, Store Manager at M&S Longbridge, added: “It’s been great to get stuck into a project that will make a difference to the local community travelling in and out of Longbridge. We can’t wait to see the new community garden complete and in full bloom.”
Throughout the project, the partnership will be planting a diverse range of fruit bushes, fruit trees and herbs as well as building a variety of bug and bird homes which will support future biodiversity and encourage new forms of wildlife in the area.
As part of the community garden, LPAP and Northfield Ecocentre are also creating volunteering opportunities in planting, growing and habitat creation. This will form part of Northfield Eccocentre’s long-term initiative to work with disadvantaged young people in the local area by encouraging the development of new skills, including food growing, carpentry and design, team working and problem solving, and the understanding of ecosystems at a local level.
LPAP’s Stephen Burle said: “Thanks to the contributions of local businesses and residents, we made great progress with our last day of platform clearing on the 19th May working towards creating a micro wild flower meadow this summer.
“With the help of volunteers from local businesses and residents, we are planning a big push to complete the first phase of this ongoing work at the station by finishing off a section on the platform by clearing and sowing of the wild seeds.”
When: Wednesday 22nd June (10am – 2pm) & Saturday 25th June (10am – 4pm)
Where: Meet at the LPAP |SPACE at 9.45am (Unit 5, 5 Longbridge Lane B31 2TS – next to Queen’s Chippy) If you arrive later, pop down to Platform 2
What: You will be given a full health and safety induction to each session and tools will be provided. You just need to be prepared with suitable work-boots for a gardening environment (please avoid trainers or soft canvas shoes) and suitable clothing.
For more information and to get involved with the ‘Wild Longbridge’ community garden initiative please contact Stephen Burke, LPAP Communications & Project Assistant, on 07845 764 751 or email firstname.lastname@example.org For more information on Longbridge, visit: longbridgebirmingham.co.uk