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York College Community Gardens 7

Students' spade work helps build communal allotment

YORK College students are digging deep to help the Friends of Leeman Park charity create a new communal allotment that is wheelchair accessible – and we’ll keep you up-to-date every step of the way in this blog.

In collaboration with international construction and engineering company John Sisk & Son, currently employed on the infrastructure phase of the York Central project, students from our Construction Support Technician apprenticeship course will play a full role in the project from the drawing board to its realisation as a desirable and inclusive area that all the community can enjoy.

It is an initiative that has also received the backing of MP for York Central Rachael Maskell.

The Friends of Leeman Park group was formed in 2014 and the team of volunteers’ simple aim was to smarten their neighbourhood.

That work has involved regularly trimming back bushes, removing graffiti, litter picking and sweeping leaves.

Larger projects have been undertaken, too, including the planting of a community orchard on Salisbury Road and the building in 2015 of a communal allotment in Back Park on Balfour Street where local people could connect with each other, as well as grow fruit, veg and herbs.

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The access difficulties a wheelchair user was having, mainly because of the rough terrain around the garden beds, has now, however, persuaded the group to relocate the allotment to the site of the orchard on Salisbury Road.

That decision was also influenced by difficulties regarding disrepair, reinforcement and patching-up issues and the group want a new raised bed area to be built more solidly than before or lined better to avoid the wood rotting from the inside out.

The intention, too, is to provide a hard-standing surface around the beds that is wide enough to accommodate wheelchair users.

With all that in mind, the charity group, who will still provide plenty of manpower, decided it would be better to enlist professional expertise, which is why our students, Sisk and York Central are now onboard.

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The project got underway last week with all the project partners helping clear brambles from the site.

Our apprenticeship students also surveyed the area and are now busy drawing up designs with support from Sisk and York College & University Centre Construction Support Technicians.

The students have been split into three different teams and the Friends of Leeman Park volunteers will decide on one of the groups’ plans during a presentation process, with the Carpentry & Joinery students then tasked with bringing the proposals to life.

Key considerations will be accessibility for both the visually-impaired and mobility-impaired communities and keeping costs low due to the charitable aspect of the project.

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Learn more

For more information on Sisk, click here.

For more information on the York Central project, click here.