An urban church community in Sheffield has developed an abandoned patch of church land into a thriving garden, teeming with wildlife and benefitting the locals, reports

Until 2020, St Chad’s Church in Woodseats, Sheffield, was regularly dealing with the cost of mowing and maintaining a disused field to the south-east of its church building.

Now, that patch of green has become The Woodseats Garden – a haven for the community – thanks to a group of green-fingered locals who dreamt of putting it to good use.

Ideas for how the garden could be used came from across the community, including to promote health and wellbeing, for leisure, for education, and to support biodiversity. They planned to avoid pesticides, use green manure, and plant a varied selection of flora and fauna to keep the project environmentally-friendly.

They set up a committee and achieved their aims – with the garden now boasting a range of biodiversity including a wildflower meadow, a bug hotel, and through supporting plants such as apple trees, roses and dahlias.

The garden even has composting facilities and a willow dome: a living domed shelter made of latticed willow branches which provides an attractive screen from the surroundings in winter and, when its leaves appear, natural shade in summer.

The garden has been funded entirely by donations, including approximately £450 so far, and is set to receive a further £1,000 this autumn from the Co-op Local Community Fund. Other donations have come in the form of plants and equipment.

Each weekend, between 12 and 30 volunteers from the local community come to work on the garden.

The garden has allowed St Chad’s to be relieved from its maintenance costs while the community benefits physically, mentally and socially from the new urban green space.

Future plans include a wildlife pond, infrastructure for rainwater collection, and planting lavender and other bee-friendly plants. The garden’s committee also hopes to see an increase in social prescribing of the garden by local GPs.

Nathan Edwards, co-founder of The Woodseats Garden, said: “It is an absolute joy seeing people coming to the garden and getting stuck in, or just stopping and relaxing for a moment to enjoy the space.

“The garden is transformative. It’s boosted local wildlife and formed friendships. Me and my family love coming, the kids play, build, garden and explore and each time we see the garden develop and change.

“The key to the garden’s success has been the partnership that has formed between the community and the church.”

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The Woodseats Garden: