Cumbria Crack

Wildflowers for West Cumbria

Children planting wildflowers in Vulcan Park, Workington, as part of the Get Cumbria Buzzing project © Cumbria Wildlife Trust

A new wildflower nursery will be created at Gosling Sike, Houghton, thanks to a £3,000 grant from the United Utilities Legacy Fund through the Cumbria Community Foundation.

The wildflower nursery will be part of a wider project to ‘Get Cumbria Buzzing’, a three-year ground breaking new project to boost numbers of bumblebees and other wild pollinators in northwest Cumbria. Volunteers will grow 9,000 plug plants during the lifetime of the project to be used in restoration work.

Developed by Cumbria Local Nature Partnership, and delivered by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, ‘Get Cumbria Buzzing’ includes a wide range of local partners who have joined forces to help reverse the decline of pollinators across the area.

Tanya St. Pierre, Get Cumbria Buzzing Development Manager, says: “The new nursery is key part of a wider project to create, restore, and enhance 115 hectares of pollinator friendly habitat, at 62 sites in northwest Cumbria. With the help of volunteers we plan to grow a range of wildflowers such as red clover, oxeye daisy, and ragged robin, which will later be planted on roadside verges and in community areas such as parks and school grounds.”

Staff at the plant nursery, in conjunction with those at working in the gardens at Gosling Sike, Houghton, will welcome existing and new community groups where people can learn gardening skills and have access to social and therapeutic horticulture.

Importantly the nursery will be host to local schools and organisations such as Heathlands Trust, Carlisle Youth Zone and Mencap to provide opportunities for young and disadvantaged people to gain a wide variety of social skills, where they will be able to work constructively with guidance, and increase their knowledge of horticulture, the natural environment and heritage.

Lucy Graham, Get Cumbria Buzzing Development Officer, says: “It is well documented that by being outside in the fresh air, undertaking the physical exercise that gardening demands, helps to improve health and well-being and build self-esteem, and to develop social skills. Cumbria Wildlife Trust is looking forward to working with other organisations to enable people within the local community to do this, especially as this type of activity is not currently available within the district of Carlisle.

“All plants grown on the nursery site will either be native UK species of local provenance, that will be used to provide stock for Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s projects and nature reserves including Gosling Sike Nature Reserve and gardens, or heritage vegetables and fruit grown with local community groups and volunteers for educational purposes. The poly tunnel will be used to grow around 9,000 pollinator-friendly plugs plants over three years which will be planted across northwest Cumbria helping to increase the number of pollinating insects, thus bringing huge benefits in terms of increasing biodiversity across Cumbria.”

John Hilton, United Utilities project director for the West Cumbria Water Supply scheme, says: “The idea behind the grants is to leave a long-term legacy which will keep improving the lives of West Cumbrians and the local environment long after construction finishes. We’re really delighted to be able to support such an important initiative through the United Utilities Legacy Fund.”

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