In this blog we hear from Lisa, one of Groundwork UK’s 2023 Youth Advisory Board members. Based in Exeter, Lisa is one of 16 young people aged 16-24 from across the country who advise Groundwork UK on policy, strategy and project work to ensure Groundwork is inclusive of young people’s thoughts and experiences. On the 2nd December Lisa was invited by Groundwork Greater Manchester to visit Platt Fields Market Garden and meet some young people from the Green Leaders programme.

Here’s her take on the day:

Walking through Platt Fields Gardens in Manchester on a frosty morning in early-December, it was with joy and surprise that I found the wild, green and exciting Platt Fields Market Garden where myself and Hannah from Groundwork’s Youth Advisory Board had been invited to join Manchester’s Green Leaders for the day. Entering Platt Fields Market Garden was like entering a metropolis of different plants and small out-houses which seems to inspire creativity, peace-of-mind and connection to nature from the moment you step into it. An oasis of wildlife within a loud and bustling urban city.

As well as an abundance of friendly faces milling around, I was also welcomed into the oasis by the inviting smells coming from an incredibly warming open wood-fire where a steaming pot of lentil and carrot Dahl cooked proudly on it’s fiery hearth…

For those who haven’t been (you most definitely should!) – Platt Fields Market Garden is a community market garden bustling with volunteers and cafe-goers even in the depths of winter (at least when we were there).

Lisa and others taking part in a workshop

It seems to attract the nature-lovers, the nature-curious and the vegan-yule log enthusiasts (their baked goods are really good…) or just those searching for a good coffee on a Saturday morning. It is an amazing community project hosting some inspiring projects such as the project reducing food waste ‘Gleaning’ and encouraging connection and wellbeing through ‘Green Prescribing’, as well as growing great veg and encouraging biodiversity.

From a wood sauna-trailer to an adorable art shed that was built recently with cob-walls, the area is not a usual sighting in an urban environment; the frame of a hopefully soon-to-be permanent (if some magical funding appears…) gazebo stands in the centre (you can just envision the fun to be had in the summer with a BBQ and some live music). I certainly left feeling inspired to look at my own city with different eyes – colourful visions of the possibilities of encouraging more nature and community action within the grey concrete of my own city coming to mind on the train home…

Reaching a year anniversary on Groundwork’s Youth Advisory Board – having been involved in a whole load of exciting projects during my time. It was really rewarding to get to see some of the ‘ground work’ that Groundwork does. The Green Leaders programme is obviously a huge success. Chatting to some of the members during our mushroom growing workshop, they told me how much of a positive impact being on the programme had had on them – a lot of them said that without it they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to connect and have access to nature. From the little bits I heard about the incredible projects they were involved in leading, I know that their local community and environment will have massively benefitted from the time and work that they have put in while on the programme as well.

So I travelled back home with a bucket full of soon to be oyster mushrooms (thanks to FungALL), a lot more knowledge about (how amazing) mushrooms (are) and a fair bit of hope and happiness in my heart.

FungALL mushrooms

Thanks Groundwork for the amazing experience, thank you Thomas, Norton and the hard-working team at Platt Fields Market Gardens – good luck with everything and I hope to be back soon! Thank you as well to the Green Leaders I met for inspiring me with their open-minds, projects and ideas.

If you feel able to support an amazing place and amazing people doing amazing work for people and the environment – Platt Fields Market Garden would appreciate any donations you can offer. And if you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend popping in to experience the happy oasis of wildlife and people that I got to witness on that frosty but happy Saturday last week.

– Lisa Hoerning, age 18, Groundwork YAB member