I recently visited the Hollybush Project, based at the Hollybush Conservation Centre. As some of you may be unaware of what goes on there, let me fill you in.
Hollybush is part of The Conservation Volunteers, a charity working to create a more sustainable future by encouraging people to get involved in reclaiming and maintaining local green places, as well as taking responsibility for their own local environments. The Hollybush Project, which has been running for over 10 years, provides a really wide range of practical environmental activities which make a big difference to people who are vulnerable members of our community, including those living with mental health issues, learning disabilities and sensory impairments.
Hollybush helps people build their confidence, learn new skills, and fulfil their potential. With over 600 adults getting involved each year and around 20 activity sessions each week for up to 70 people on any one day there’s a lot happening! Activities include:
- Working in the garden, growing lots of fruit and vegetables to enjoy and share in the community café:
- Learning about healthy cooking and eating (using some of that fruit and veg!);
- Baking cakes and serving them in the café;
- Working in the woodwork workshop to make planters, bird feeders and other garden items;
- Doing arts and crafts in the activity room;
- Going for walks;
- Helping to look after the Leeds Liverpool Canal section which goes past the Hollybush wildlife garden; and
- Caring for the two raised fruit and vegetable beds at Kirkstall Abbey.
…and everyone is welcome to get involved.
When I arrived, Emma and Gill, the Project Coordinators and Lesley, a volunteer, were getting everyone prepared for the first task of the day – making a vegetable and lentil soup for lunch.
Once everyone had washed their hands and donned aprons the serious task of chopping vegetables began. There was a real sense of team spirit as everyone got involved, whether this was preparing vegetables, adding a stock cube, measuring out lentils or adding tomato puree. Everyone had their part to play.
Once the soup was done and bubbling away on the hob, Gill asked Gordon – one of their longest standing members – to show me around.
Gordon has been going to Hollybush for the last 12 years. He told me: “I love it here and really enjoy doing all the activities.” Gordon’s certainly very active at Hollybush and the work he does helping in the garden, doing woodwork and getting involved in as many activities as possible makes a real difference.
Our first port of call was the woodwork shop, where Russell was preparing for the next class – he told me they were very busy at the moment. They were making a whole range of planters, bird feeders and other garden ornaments, as well as some replacement bee hives for their resident bees, who have a home in the suburban garden.
Our next stop was at the garden and poly tunnels, where there’s a vast array of different fruit and vegetable plants – everything from sweet peas to lettuce, rhubarb to purple cauliflowers! Gordon told me they were getting the plants ready for the upcoming plant sale, which was on the 7 June 2015. Hollybush hold several sales throughout the year as a way or raising additional funds for the project and you can find out when the next sale is on by visiting their Facebook page.
After my guided tour, we went back to the activity room where everyone was busy writing up their diaries. Gill told me the group love to keep a record of all the activities they have done and often enjoy including pictures with the diaries being a great way for them to remember what they’ve done and show people what everyone has achieved.
Once this was complete it was time for lunch and every tucked into the delicious soup they had helped to make.
The Hollybush Project, Broad Lane, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3BP
Tel: 0113 274 2335