What's your favourite season?
Autumn! I love natures firework display of colour and all the harvesting that can happen before settling in for a winter rest.
Who's your favourite superhero?
Do the Na'vi from Avatar count? They really know about being at peace with nature. If not, Thor is my number one!
Favourite veg you've grown?
Always sweetcorn - if we can get it before the badgers!
I have been at Grozone for seven years or eight growing seasons! The combination of people and outdoors (including the Great British weather) is what makes me tick. I come from a forest school background where I worked with children but also spent alot of time with adults who were on the periphery of society, helping them come back to themselves through learning skills and developing confidence in a beautiful outdoor setting, I hope I have continued this work at Grozone.
My main aim is to make sure everyone is welcome and valued for the individual qualities they bring and to make the outdoors accessible and friendly to all. I am passionate about care of the environment, my border collie Ned, and walking the countryside when I'm not at work in the garden. I also love a proper cider or real ale, learning a new craft, pickling or preserving, a wild swim and a good dance to some folk music; I am certainly not a cool person but I would like to hope I am a kind one!
Find more of
our staff here!
Respect Each Other
Respect the Environment
Respect the Equipment
Grozone has been around for over 10 years now, and we have plenty to show for it. Our garden's focus on helping the environment has been huge, and here's a little on our impact so far.
Firstly we have created a wide range of habitats on site that weren't available when the site was derelict. These include:
All of these habitats have been decimated in the UK in the last 50 years, particularly on farmland, so any spaces that are available for wildlife are essential as they are squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces or have died out. We're helping to restore than and give these animals the space they need to thrive.
Several ponds and small wetland areas for amphibians and aquatic life.
A perennial wildflower meadow for native flowers, grasses and their associated insects and birds
Scrub and hedgerow for nesting birds
Undisturbed areas of undergrowth for hedgehogs, birds, insects
Tree cover for birds
Electricity and heating - We aren't connected to the grid at Grozone so all of our heating and cooking comes from wood fires and a small amount of electricity comes from solar panels, so we are carbon neutral in energy production and usage. The wood is either from tree work on the site or donated from local works. We use old fashioned methods to stay warm too - lots of layers and staying busy so our energy demand is very low.
Carbon Storage - we have done lots of tree planting on site, including hedgerows but primarily fruit and nut trees. Not only do these produce flowers and food for us and the wildlife but also are storing carbon as they grow. We also take care of our soil on site, by keeping any soil disturbance to an absolute minimum which also then stores carbon.
Organic food growing - we grow and demonstrate how others can grow food organically. This reduces any food miles, teaches local and seasonal eating and cuts out any fossil fuels that would be used to create pesticides or fertilisers. Organic growing benefits the local wildlife and the soil, by not killing off vital insects that maintain the food chain. We have a greenhouse to extend our growing season, but it is second hand and is not heated.
Recycling - we create our own compost, using waste materials from the site, transferring the nutrients back into the soil, we never buy in compost that contains peat and therefore has a huge carbon and habitat impact. We also collect large amounts of rainwater from the rooves on site (this also slows the flow of water into the drains and reduces local flooding) to water our plants with in the summer so only have a very small demand on the water grid for drinking and washing water.
We are often given equipment and tools that have been finished with elsewhere and give them a new lease of life by cleaning them, mending them and using them on site.
Smaller things - we only use environmentally sensitive cleaning products, organic milk for our brews, fairtrade tea and coffee and we are working towards being as plastic free as possible - using reusables (e.g. china mugs) or biodegradable alternatives to disposable plastic (e.g. loofa sponges to wash up.)
Here at Grozone we work with some fantastic organisations to make our garden possible. Take a look at a few of them and what they do!
Love My River
Love My River Northwich is an exciting project working within our community to raise awareness of local rivers and watercourses and involve people in looking after them.
Their local volunteers, community groups, businesses, schools and colleges to help us learn more about the water's condition and take part in practical action to improve them. Here's some of the fantastic stuff they get up to:
Walkover surveys which will help build a better picture of the condition of local rivers and the issues affecting them, as well as identifying any particular problems that need attention
‘Citizen Science’ sessions carrying out chemical, physical and biological testing to provide more detailed data on water quality to support the Environment Agency and other Conservation organisations’ work to protect the freshwater environment
Practical Action days to deal with some of the problems or potential improvements identified on our Walkover Surveys and Citizen Science sessions. These could include: litter picks and clean-up days, controlling invasive non-native species, riverbank protection work, tree planting etc.
Grozone is a Groundwork project.
Groundwork is both a charitable trust and a social enterprise that has been working to build more sustainable communities since 1985. They do this by helping people and organisations to create better neighbourhoods, to build their skills and job prospects, and to live and work in a greener way, which fits in perfectly with Grozone.
Their vision is of a society of sustainable communities which are vibrant, healthy and safe, which respect the local and global environmental and where individual and enterprises prosper. They aim to:
Improve people’s prospects by increasing the confidence, skills, well-being and employability of those furthest removed from, in particular young people.
Create better places by helping people work together to make their surroundings greener, safer and healthier and get involved in the way decisions are made.
Promote greener living and working by helping people learn more about their environmental impact and act responsibly to reduce natural resource use.
Our journey started in summer 2008, when we first visited the long derelict “Danefield Nurseries” - an old plot of land that had long since been abandoned, and we were determined to bring it back to life! The community banded together in designing our new garden, and once our planning permission had been granted, the (very much needed!) tidy up could begin in earnest - the entire area was exceptionally overgrown, and lots of weeding, cutting grass, and creating paths had to be put in place to even make the place accessible.
Once we had cleared the land, we recruited the help of the local Victoria Road Primary School to help design something that could be a staple of our garden. Among the great many ideas, everybody worked together and managed to design the now very iconic, totem pole.
In November 2010, we were awarded £48,000 in funding by the People’s Millions to really help kick-start the project. The garden continued to flourish, forever evolving, with the addition of bee hives, a yurt for the winter, and a greenhouse with the capacity for water harvesting. As time went on, we were awarded more funding by people who realised how important our cause was, opening Grozone for 4 days a week with specialised events for toddlers and volunteers alike.
Caroline has been at the helm of delivery since September 2017, delivering a dynamic schedule of gardening, cooking, crafting, bushcraft, music, and many more to our fleet of volunteers. Thanks to their hard work, we have been awarded two gold awards in Northwest In Bloom 2018, and in September 2018 we officially celebrated our 10th birthday.
Recently we’ve made the addition of the Urban Garden (which you can check out here!) to showcase what you can do, even with such a small space. Grozone is constantly growing - both figuratively and literally! We are always looking forward to the next thing, and aim to consistently develop the site in line with our ethos. Be sure to come down and see what it’s all about, we would love to have you.