Bringing together different faiths, generations and cultures to enjoy our shared heritage and ‘green oasis’
Our contemporary ‘Paradise Garden’ utilises the land surrounding The Ascension Church in Lower Broughton, Salford, drawing on the key, traditional elements of this iconic feature historically shared by all three Abrahamic traditions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Natural, indigenous wildlife and traditional ‘English country church-yards’ are also the inspiration behind our garden. We hope that our Paradise Garden reminds people of the shared heritage that we have in common with our neighbours from different cultures, whilst also bringing a little piece of the countryside to inner-city Salford.
We aim to create a physical, practical and ‘spiritual oasis’ that emphasises the beauty, colour, scent and sound of water that is typical of Paradise Gardens, so that the residents of our inner-city community can be reminded of our shared heritage with our neighbours and be inspired by this shared space and green oasis.
We hope that a walk around this ‘eco-microcosm’ will not only demonstrate the iconic, traditional features of Paradise Gardens but will also show case the best of our own unique, natural heritage.
Our Practical Skills Training & Volunteer Initiative is delivered within a rolling programme of activities involving the creation of our Paradise Garden so that volunteers from within the community can learn new skills, improve their confidence, and join others in group activities that provide a sense of collaborative, ‘shared ownership’ and social reconnection in ways which are now well proven to improve physical and mental well-being.
Over the last five years participants have been involved in the creation of a ‘living willow archway’, native species wild-flower meadow and various landscaping projects including the construction of raised beds where organic vegetables, herbs and edible flowers have been grown for consumption within the community cafeteria.
The management of our organic vegetable plots, fruit trees, lawns and bee-hives along with the landscaping and other development tasks involve volunteers from the local community, bringing together different generations, cultures and faiths. Each volunteer bringing with them a different story and their own unique skills set to enhance the project and we couldn’t do it without them!
WATCH THIS! This short documentary, produced and directed by Marit Shep, for her MA Wildlife Documentary Production at The University of Salford was inspired by our project and filmed in 2014. The film includes a summary of what a Paradise Garden actually is by Tony Milroy, Project Manager and also features David who started as a volunteer bee-keeper in 2014 and who has now managed the hives at The Ascension Paradise Garden since 2015 with additional training and experience providing him with the knowledge and confidnec to be our bee-keeping trainer in 2016!
This blog is brought to you by the volunteers involved in the creation of our Paradise Garden in an effort to document the seasonal stages of managing our community food growing and bee-hive initiatives whilst also demonstrating how these communal, out-door activities bring local people together and engender positive change in those involved, strengthening their connection to nature and the local community.
We would like to thank The Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities Trust, Comic Relief Reaching Communities and The Little Pot of Health Innovation Fund and Salford CVS for their funding support which has made our continued work with volunteers to create our Paradise Garden and learn about bee-keeping possible. Thank You!