Everton in the Community’s mental health hub to host sustainable growing space

This year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park will feature show garden ‘Brickyard: Grow, Cook, Eat’, a sustainable urban growing space that strengthens biodiversity and connects city residents with the joy of growing good food.

Designed by Conal McGuire, the show garden is the first public project from Conal Studio, and is a collaboration with charity partners Feeding Liverpool, the city’s food alliance passionate about ensuring everyone can eat good food, and Everton in the Community (EitC), the charitable arm of Everton Football Club that tackles social issues across the Liverpool City region including employability, mental health, education and poverty.

After the show, the garden will be relocated to Everton in the Community’s purpose-built mental health and wellbeing hub, The People’s Place – forming a lasting legacy for the city.

Brickyard’s design is influenced by traditional brickyards that run alongside thousands of UK terraced streets. It responds to the limitations of awkward inner-city growing spaces and looks at how they can be adapted for modern living. 

The charities said that factors such as tenancy agreements, environmental concerns, tradition, and cost have a massive impact on how people utilise these spaces. The aim is to inspire new ways of thinking by developing solutions for people that they may not have thought of.

Brickyard has already won a Royal Horticultural Society gold award and Best Terrace and Slim Space Garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

The show garden, built by Cheshire’s Acorn Landscape Services, aims to inspire young and old audiences, encouraging them to transform their outdoor spaces into an ‘ecological oasis’, despite the traditional restrictions of environment, ownership, and size.

Bespoke steel growing frames will provide contemporary screening for inner city residents and maximise how much produce they can grow. These have been designed to be transportable, so tenants can take them with them when they move and reconfigure them to suit. The frames are made from repurposed steel bars, hand crafted by local Cheshire fabricator ‘Steel and Scape’.

Insects and wildlife are also protected and supported by a scheme of sustainable companion planting, developed for the garden in partnership with B 4 Biodiversity expert Andrea Ku. 

Recycled building materials have been used whenever possible. The brickwork is reclaimed, and the seating is sustainably produced from recycled sea plastics. Due to the garden being relocated after the show, there will be minimal wastage. 

Conal McGuire, founder of Conal Studio, commented: “Seeing this garden through from concept to reality has been a wonderful opportunity. 

“There have been challenges along the way but knowing that Brickyard will go on to have a meaningful legacy back in Liverpool after Tatton makes it all worthwhile. 

“I would like to thank Feeding Liverpool and Everton in the Community for their involvement; these two charities are close to my heart and represent some of our cities finest and kindest. 

“I hope that Brickyard encourages people to boost urban biodiversity and inspires them to develop their own awkward outdoor spaces.”

Offering a new template for green urban design, and becoming a backdrop for community learning and engagement, ‘Brickyard: Grow, Cook, Eat’ will be permanently rehomed after the show to Everton in the Community’s ‘The People’s Place’.

The People’s Place is the first purpose-built mental health and wellbeing hub attached to a Premier League football club and houses the charity’s 15 mental health projects and provides wellbeing activities alongside educational and employment support.

The garden will become the latest addition to the Goodison Campus, offering a safe space for staff and service users to host one-on-one therapy sessions, community events, group counselling and community outreach work as well as giving residents access to homegrown food and equipping them with the skills to grow their own produce.

The majority of the charity’s delivery takes place in Liverpool 4, which is one of the most socially deprived wards in the UK, with both Everton and Kirkdale among the 10 most economically deprived ‘food deserts’ in England.

After the closure of the RHS Flower Show, the garden will be moved to its final location and an official opening will be held to celebrate the beginning of Brickyard’s long legacy following the completion of the build. 

The charity will hold and maintain the garden for years to come, helping to transform lives by improving food provision for all, regardless of age, gender or football allegiances.  

Jonathon Jones, senior programme manager at Everton in the Community, added: “Everton in the Community is thrilled to partner with Feeding Liverpool and Conal Studio to bring ‘Brickyard: Grow, Cook, Eat’ to The People’s Place. 

“As a charity, we pride ourselves on acting upon the needs of the local community and improving access to homegrown produce is one that must be addressed to help tackle issues of food insecurity.

“This is a great opportunity for us, which will allow the community and our participants to access a green growing space and take up gardening to help aid their wellbeing. 

“The garden will also help to support the delivery of our programmes and enhance what we can offer at The People’s Place, so we are honoured for it to be placed with us and continue Brickyard’s legacy.”

The garden will also be accessible to Feeding Liverpool’s network as they bring organisations and residents together to deliver engagement activities around Good Food For All, with both Feeding Liverpool and Everton in the Community subscribed to Liverpool’s Good Food Plan.  

Feeding Liverpool is Liverpool’s food alliance, supporting and equipping foodbanks, community food spaces and organisations passionate about ‘good food for all’ across Liverpool. 

They are driving forward Liverpool’s Good Food Plan – a collaborative cross-sector strategy addressing issues concerning the food we eat, including food insecurity, access to good food, the impact food has on the planet and how good food is produced and consumed.  

In Liverpool, more than 1 in 3 adults are food insecure – with food being a source of worry, and households reducing the quality and quantity of food they are eating, skipping meals and for some going hungry. Many residents also do not have access to their own green growing spaces.  

Liverpool’s Good Food Plan seeks to develop ‘food citizenship’ through enabling residents to have the power and tools to shape their own food environments. Urban food growing is a foundation stone of this vision. 

The partnership developed through ‘Brickyard: Grow, Cook, Eat’ will have benefits for residents including encouraging healthy eating, a sense of wellbeing and improving food security.  

Dr Naomi Maynard from Feeding Liverpool said: “Feeding Liverpool is delighted to partner with Conal Studio and Everton in the Community to bring ‘Brickyard: Grow, Cook, Eat’ to Liverpool. 

“Good food is the foundation of strong communities in our city, bringing people from all different walks of life together. Our hope is that Brickyard will inspire urban growing in unusual spaces across Liverpool alongside being a focal point for good food in Everton.”

The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park runs until Sunday 23 July. For more information, click here.

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