Joe’s Wild Garden at Zest

Joe’s Wild Garden at Zest

A unique group in Sheffield, Percy Street Collective, is empowering young neurodiverse adults and creating beautiful green spaces in the city. They have teamed up with Grow Wild to restore a corner of the Peace Garden at Upperthorpe, aiming to create a vibrant community space with native British herbs and edibles. It is called Joe’s Wild Garden at Zest and is being created by Joe Horne who has been attending the Percy Street Workshop session for over a year.

Founded in 2021 by Chartered Engineer and Architect Brian George, Percy Street Collective supports young neurodiverse adults in expressing their creativity and progressing to paid employment. They have partnered with various organizations across Sheffield to realize this vision such as Sheffield City Council, FoodWorks, Regather and KidsPlantTrees.

One of their notable achievements is the Herb Garden at Alder Bar. The garden, created by Joe Spriggs and his team, transformed a barren space into a thriving green area. It also helped young adults explore gardening and horticulture, contributing to the Alder winning the Pub of the Year award. Plus, it makes for excellent viewing while you enjoy a pint of Sheffield’s finest.   

This latest collaboration has been made possible by the offer of funding for the Kew Wild grant from RBG Kew and will celebrate the native plants that can be found growing in and around Sheffield. But more than that it will celebrate Joe’s family links with Kew stretching back more than 150 years.   Joe’s great, great, great grandfather, Charles, worked as a gardener for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the 1850s. Charles was sent by Sir Charles Hooker, the superintendent at Kew, to manage the Botanic Gardens in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The project thus connects the past with the present, honouring a legacy of horticultural excellence.

The garden at Upperthorpe was named The Peace Garden in 2000 following some restoration work and it will again be improved to celebrate the local community and provide a space for restful contemplation and community activities.

Joe’s Wild Garden at Zest is not just about beautifying a space; it’s about involving the community. Throughout June and July, a display about the project will be showcased at The Zest Centre, inviting the public to learn more, share their views, and participate in the transformation. This display will offer insights into the planned planting and the significance of the native species chosen for the garden.

The Zest Centre, a vital community hub in Upperthorpe, offers a range of services, including health and employment support. The Peace Garden project aligns with Zest’s mission to enhance the well-being of the local community. By transforming a neglected corner of the garden, the project will provide a serene space for reflection, relaxation, and community gatherings.

 Volunteer opportunities are available over the summer and early autumn, offering a chance for community members to contribute to this green initiative. By volunteering, individuals can learn about native plants, gardening techniques, and the importance of green spaces in urban environments. 

The wider Percy Street Collective project has been bolstered recently by funding amounting to nearly £30,000 from a combination of the National Lottery and The Sheffield City Council MSIF Workforce Grant.   This guarantees the service will continue for at least the next two years and provides the opportunity to take on two members of paid staff.  The two roles of Horticultural Lead and Workshop Lead have been advertised locally and Percy Street Collective welcomes all applicants especially those from the neurodiverse community.

In June, a new collaboration between Percy Street Collective and Alder will create a series of Autism Friendly Nights at Alder Bar on Percy Street, Neepsend.  This will provide a safe space for neurodiverse adults and their partners and helpers.  The first will be on Monday 3rd June from 4.00 to 10.00 and on the following Mondays in June. 

The Autism Friendly Workshop Nights are open to all young neurodiverse individuals seeking a supportive and creative outlet where it is hoped that everyone will feel able to be themselves.

The Percy Street Collective workshop support sessions include a variety of activities such as woodwork, art, music, and horticulture, which are all person-centred and outcome-focused.    The service is generally funded via individual Care Act assessments and supports everyone in engaging in projects with friends and colleagues around Sheffield.   By offering a dedicated time and space for these activities, Percy Street Collective aims to create an inclusive community where young people can thrive, build confidence, and develop skills that may lead to future employment opportunities.

You can drop into the Percy Street Workshops between 9.00 and 4.30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to chat with Brian and the team and see what is being created.  

To help Percy Street Collective in its journey to transform the Peace Garden, visit the display, share your views, volunteer your time, or attend the Autism Friendly Workshop Nights. The legacy of horticultural passion, from Joe’s ancestor to today’s young gardeners, continues to flourish, bringing beauty and vitality to Sheffield. Together, we can cultivate a greener, more inclusive community.

For more information, visit Percy Street Collective’s workshop on Percy Street in Neepsend, or follow their activities online.  www.percystreetcic.com 

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