Ecological Community Gardens
Earth Moves @TELEGRAPH LANE
Earth Moves Community is grateful to be instrumental in the restoration and re-utilization of Telegraph Lane on the old market gardens in Wallasey, where we are based. The lane has a beauty and a mystique and is now open for people to enjoy.
In a short amount of time we have have made many interventions to the site which is
The area tells a story of food growing and human activity that reach back to Mesolithic times.
We are honoured to be the latest chapter in this story.
We use methods and ideologies from Permaculture to grow food and community, naturally and organically .
We have created an ample community food growing space
We have developed quality community, collaborative Earth goddess sculpture gardens.
We are currently erecting our third industrial-size polytunnel.
Thanks to our funders, Wirral council and our volunteers,
participants, and visitors, we now have a variety of green and covered spaces
for workshops, classes, and events.
We have a wildflower area and various mini forest gardens distributed throughout the site. Some areas are left to conserve wildlife.
We have compost toilets, including a disabled compost toilet.
The location is near public transport.
We have currently been funded to grow food and develop home-grown community meals. We also host many free educational, well-being, and creative activities.
We are engaged in developing a large community food growing space, goddess sculpture gardens, polytunnels, and a variety of green and covered spaces for workshops, classes, and events. We have made disability accessible paths. We have also made several ponds.
We have added significantly to the biodiversity of Telegraph Lane. We have planted almost 100 fruit and nut trees as well as Willow trees. We have planted 200 fruit bushes.
We have created a meadow that the public can see and enjoy. Wildflower meadows are one of the rarest habitats in the UK, and we have lost 97% of our beautiful wildflower meadows since the 1930s.
Before our interventions, the site had a limited pallet of mainly invasive plants. The public could not enjoy as they can today. The improvements on the site are the result of a lot of hard work by the Earth Moves team, a group of amazing volunteers and our funders and partners.
We aim for this project to be part of a more extensive environmental program run by and for diverse grassroots-based communities.
Climate change and climate and personal/community resilience are issues that are a the core of our work.
Before our interventions, the site had a limited pallet of mainly invasive plants
Where is the site?
Telegraph Lane is a pedestrian path between Green Lane and Leasowe Road. The lane runs alongside a series of fields, formerly the market gardens for Wallasey.
The site is a 10 minuet walk from Wallasey Grove Road station
The Earth Moves site can be accessed by foot and bicycle from Bayswater Road, turning onto Green Lane and walking up the lane for 480 meters. It is also within walking distance of the North Wirral Coastal Car Park on Green Lane, Wallasey CH45 8NA.
There is no public car parking at the site itself. Bicycle parking is available.
Permaculture and Community
The principles of permaculture illustrate a method of living that is both optimizing for people and the planet. We have developed a creative permaculture project, transforming land, people, and community and looking at what good psychological health means. We connect to an international movement that seeks a fairer, more inclusive, ecologically sensitive, and kinder world.
We have involved the community in the consultation process and those locally interested in the benefits for both environmental and community well-being.
Scientific data has been extracted from the site. We are forming a forest garden plan with international permaculturist Tomas Remiarz. His book is here.
We have conducted detailed surveys of the site's natural ecology - consulting local botanist and conservationist Dr. Hilary Ash.
We appreciate the assistance and support of the Wirral Council.
Earth Moves Journey . . .
In the winter of 2016, a group of diverse individuals linked by creative collaborations came together as an informal association. Believing in the transformative power of the arts and sharing concern over issues of a lack of adequate environmental action at a grassroots level, we decided to take action. We also want to initiate community resilience and encourage others to take action on the environmental crisis.
We see psychological and mental health as being linked to environmental issues. We aimed to help remedy the collapse of local food growing and a disengaged, disempowered, disconnected public.
Making true connections to others is related to mental health. At Earth Moves we help people to take responsibility and participate in service and self help.
By March 2017, the group had launched a co-operative based in Wallasey called Earth Moves, and following the example of usufruct ,accessed a derelict industrial greenhouse (thanks to Manor Garden Centre), on the historic market gardens along Leasowe Road. We funded the project with our own resources, volunteer time, hard work, and commitment.
At Earth Moves we are proud to serve the community and provide opportunities to those traditionally excluded from environmental and horticultural groups as well as participating in making decisions over public land.
We work with all types of people and we are disability and neurodiverse friendly. We have worked with people from all parts of the world partially queer asylum seekers.
Within 2 years, we have engaged over 600 diverse people , mainly from Wallasey, Leasowe, Birkenhead and Liverpool, but also asylum seekers from throughout the world.
We have grew food crops, learned about biodiversity and permaculture techniques, and shared nature-based creativity and wellbeing activities. We made the connections between the ecological and social challenges.
Between then and now, our transformative endeavours have earned us pockets of funding, including from Awards for All, the National Lottery Community Fund, The Alef Trust, Comic Relief, Groundwork, Community Chest, Liverpool community fund, Bright Ideas Fund, and The Lottery COVID Fund. Lottery community fund, Arts Council and the Earnest Cooke Trust and LCVS.
We also provided a safe space and refuge for those in our community with non-neurotypical and mental health difficulties LGBQT+, asylum seekers and for those seeking some constructive peace and the benefits of socialisation within a natural, safe and supportive space.
We have invited local schools to participate and introduced them to no-dig and permaculture methods of food growing.
Community Food Production
We have grown salads, vegetables, and fruit for our community. It is hoped Our research has looked at ways to link food production with ecological practices and nature conservation as well as social needs.
Earth Moves see the permaculture aspect as a distinctive component of our land management, providing innovative opportunities for the public to participate through volunteering, courses, workshops and events. We encourage diverse community members to connect, share skills and provide mutual support.
Human Wellbeing, Education and Research
We have completed research with the aid of a grant from the Alef Trust in support of our project called ‘Transforming Land, Transforming People’, through which we analyzed how engaging with nature in practical and creative ways improves mental well-being.
Our ambition is to develop accredited courses leading to qualifications and, ultimately, a permaculture land college and environmental knowledge hub. This way, we can link with other sites and scale up food production and distribution through Community Supported Agriculture and Food Co-op schemes.
As a cooperative, Earth Moves is keen to advance the cooperative economy and could position itself as a co-ordinating or multi-stakeholder role in the local social economy and provide consultancy to other community sites across Wirral and beyond.
Learning from the Environment
and the impacts of Climate Change
Through this start-up support from the Bright ideas fund, we were also able to broaden our project consultations through community events and workshops during 2021/22. We are keen to link up with local nature, ecology, and community groups to see how we could cooperate in developing social, ecological, and economic benefits.
We run courses at the site through Wirral Lifelong Learning. These include well-being, community environmental volunteering, child mental health, family gardening, and psychology and wellbeing.
Through our gardening, cultural, well-being, LGBTQ+, educational, social media, and ecological activities, we have built a social community of interests and supporters, and volunteers. These are drawn from our immediate local neighborhoods and further afield in Wirral and Liverpool City Region.
A range of exploratory garden projects has been created from diverse groups generated by the Earth Moves community, with participants working co-operatively towards our evolving holistic plan devised with Tomas Remiarz.
Our first project was 'The Women's Gardening and Connecting Group', funded by Comic Relief. We also have a garden for spiritual contemplation, reflection, and healing, supported by the Alef Trust. Thanks to funding from LCVS, we have Horticulture, permaculture, nature immersion, well-being, and connectivity are all a part of the ethos of the gardens.
Themed Edible Gardens
We see collective growing as a more sustainable and attractive alternative to allotments - Working in small groups means work is shared and so is the harvest. When one or more people cannot attend, the garden is maintained.
During COVID restrictions, our outdoor spaces were a refuge for many people. Providing safe outdoor opportunities for learning and connection. During this time, we did planning and discussion through Zoom and media projects, which also grew our community.
We have created a Gothic Neuro-diverse -Bio-diverse Garden, a sensory healing garden, a vintage heritage garden, a themed edible, Triscal garden, forest gardens, a sculpture garden, and incorporating a nature trail through the wilder areas of the site.
It is essential to Earth Moves that getting involved with the land is a diverse, fun, and educational experience, helping build a future lifestyle for all with horticulture, permaculture, and nature-loving practice at its heart.
As well as our meadow, we have created mini-pilgrimage routes. Serpentine paths through dense brambles conclude in various life-size goddesses. These help the viewer recognise the reality of environmental destruction and ask them to be more respectful to mother Earth.
Telegraph Lane History and Condition
The Telegraph Lane site was abandoned for 30 years. It was historically used as a market garden. Part of this project's aim is to resurrect this use. As we enter an age of food insecurity, organic and progressive food production may become key to our survival.
We have started to make permaculture interventions on the land as previously mentioned. We plan to conserve some areas of the site. Swathes of the land have become overgrown and reclaimed by nature through succession processes.
Apart from the fields at the Green Lane end, most of the fields are waterlogged and flooded through the winter. Our interventions, planting trees, digging ponds and ditches, and raising the earth, have meant we have made areas that don't get waterlogged as their surroundings s do.
This resting of the land, however, has also increased the fertility of the soil, and its long period without pollution from pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers could prove helpful in enabling organic crops to be grown, increasing biodiversity, and promoting pollinators. This is what we are seeking to achieve and a marketing opportunity for our fresh produce sales.
Draining the fields by developing the ditches into a series of swales and wetlands, willow carrs and ponds has increased biodiversity. Ecosystems are enriched by increasing the range of habitats and niches. The techniques we use such as digging wells and water catchment. These provide irrigation for the dry summer months. This ‘blue infrastructure', along with the edible hedgerows, creates an ecological security barrier without resorting to security fencing - thereby enhancing the countryside and wildlife aspects of the footpath experience. In addition, fresh, nutrient-rich earth from the reclaimed ditches and ponds has been applied to the growing zones to increase fertility and raise the land's level.
The Significance of Telegraph Lane to the Market Gardens, the Local Area, and Earth Moves
The site has important cultural, heritage and ecological value. Much of the site will be used as a nature reserve and a locus of study. Earth Moves have been gathering research in anticipation of a National Heritage bid to reclaim this lost heritage and use the lessons of why the market gardens failed to build a more resilient food system for the future.
By observing nature we can learn deep lessons about the meaning of life and our connection to ourselves and the world. If people engage with projects like ours they learn to appreciate the natural world, so are more likely to preserve it. Working together on Earth Moves projects teaches cooperation, improves communication skills, and builds connections and communities. The permaculture strategy also links into the Forest Gardening concept promoted by our permaculture advisor Tomas Remiarz, so tree growth on the site, particularly the willows will be encouraged and have been coppiced for fencing. Basketry and related craft practices will be utilised to effectively resource the willow yield.
In winter/spring 2021, we began to plant hedgerows with Wirral Council. We hope to escalate our program that will restock the lane with traditional trees and shrubs and the introduction of fruit-bearing hedge trees for human consumption will also encourage the joys of birdlife.
A Multi-purpose Site and Participatory Project
Earth Moves analysis of small-scale community-based horticulture goes back to projects from 2013. Earth Moves' ambition for Telegraph Lane is more than just a horticulture enterprise. We recognise that the site needs to be multi-functional to become sustainable. A lesson from the heritage of the market gardens is that diversification of crops was paramount to survival, due to the vagaries of climate, markets, and pests. Therefore the efforts of Earth Moves re-enforces this approach, so while crops and plant products will be grown in an ecological and sustainable way, we add to this other complementary uses of the land relevant to current imperatives relating to the ecological crisis, climate change, food poverty, skills and employment, isolation, volunteering and local community wealth building.
As well as inputting into local food system development, Telegraph Lane also operates programs of land-based education, research, well-being, and cultural activity. We encourage residents from local neighborhoods to participate in shaping the variety of activities on offer and to share co-operatively in the benefits produced. It should be noted therefore that this project measures success not only through generating yields but also from the provision to the local area of social value.
A Social and Meeting Space
The site operates as a social space, a meeting place, a therapy/well-being venue, and a land-based education and training center. It is also envisaged that in conjunction with these purposes, we will be able to accommodate visitors, walkers, cyclists, and tourists. We plan to facilitate food distribution operations, sales/exchanges/ fair share. We have started community meals from the products we have grown.
We plan to establish a plant-based, ecologically run, sourced, and powered café. An information office could also be established.
We are currently raising funds for a vegan and vegetarian cafe using the food we grow at the site and selling fresh herbal teas and other herbal products from herbs we grow.
We have several outdoor sculptures and structures planned.
We are raising money for a permanent outdoor marquee for outdoor dance, yoga and meditation.
Our Plans for the Near Future
We are hoping to add Permaculture accredited training to what we offer.
Host a yearly environmental festival to link grassroots communities in the region.
Supplying specialty ingredients for restaurants. and businesses.
Supplying local schools with fresh produce for free for low-income families.
We plan to create a heritage centre, providing information on the area's food-growing history, including workers' stories and memories of the old market gardens.
A Note on Social-Ecology
The cause of the environmental crisis, climate change, and habitat degradation is rooted in our social interactions, manifesting as an oppressive and unfair hierarchy, alienation, competition, and dis-ease. The mutual interests of individuals, communities and the natural world are divided by inequality, commodification, and exploitation.
Promoting and designing cooperative, compassionate, caring, connective, and democratic approaches to how we live with each other and with nature are paramount for the health of the individual, community and planet.
Respecting, nurturing, and generating diversity is the ethos that builds the biodiversity we seek. This is The Way of Earth Moves; it is not utopian pie-in-the-sky thinking; it is the hard, complex, and life-healing work that urgently needs to be done. The evidence is all around if we choose to explore.
Earth Moves Cooperative is currently established as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee with co-operative articles, which can be viewed at Companies House or on our website. Included in these Articles are the reasons that make us a not-for-profit community business with various charitable aims: education, horticulture, and community development.
As a cooperative, we are pledged to improve and grow the environment for further cooperative development and encourage the setting up of a local cooperative business community. We are pioneering this socio-economic perspective in the Wallasey/Wirral area. We envisage the Telegraph Lane project as providing an opportunity for Earth Moves to evolve into a multi-stakeholder co-op, supporting and coordinating a range of supported co-ops to develop on-site and in the local area. In this way, we can stimulate business activity and start-ups.
The unfortunate commodification and financialisation of nature are increasingly being promoted by the ‘sustainability’ industry in which carbon credits are generated by measuring biodiversity land units and tree planting.
The project is partly a protective measure for community resilience, security, and green belt conservation. We see the community as being provided with the opportunity to design an ecological land-use economy that increases biodiversity and social benefits.
Volunteer With Us
To volunteer with Earth Moves on this project, individuals will need to have completed our Environmental Volunteer Course, which we are running in collaboration with Wirral Lifelong Learning.
Visitors are welcome by appointment and may be asked to join in with the day's activities. We are planning a schedule of activities. The public is welcome to engage in many of our events. as long as they abide by our safe spaces policies.
At our events, we create safe spaces. Many people have sensitivities due to past trauma or mental health. We make clear that we will not tolerate; racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, or degrading comments about disabilities.
We ask that interactions with others do not include ‘bulldozing’ and bullying. Aggressive and competitive behaviour is discouraged at our events. We encourage people to respect the opinions of others and try to be present to what others are actually saying and doing. We encourage self-reflection and resist ways of pushing against each other. More privileged members are encouraged to give 'a hand up'. Self-empowered ways of engaging and mutual aid are encouraged. Consenting leadership, cooperative values and compassionate, self-aware ways of being are actively promoted.
The Greenhouse-Generously donated by Manor Garden Center. Please visit them for all your gardening needs.
We are no longer working from the greenhouse, but are raising funds to build a community glasshouse on Telegraph Lane.
The following describes our previous inspirations and activities.
Earth Moves started in 2016, walking the dog through some overgrown and abandoned market gardens near Leasowe Beach on the Wirral. We spotted an industrial size greenhouse through the brambles and weeds. Seeing it forlornly out-of-use made us think of the history of the area, and how once it would have provided fresh food for local markets. This led to a conversation about how so many individuals in the UK now rely on food banks, and often don’t have access to fresh fruit and vegetables grown organically.
It was at that moment we came up with the idea for Earth Moves, a community project, based in ‘The Greenhouse’, reviving its historical use and helping people to eat fresh and learn the skills to ‘grow their own' in a sustainable way. We could provide a space for transformation with our arts, dance and wellbeing projects being situated in our year-round garden greenhouse.
So with permission from the owner of Manor Garden Centre, we set about repairing the greenhouse structure, clearing weeds and planting. Inviting different groups from our community to come and help with the work and learn skills while doing so. We have held many workshops over the past few years at ‘The Greenhouse’, based on themes of wellbeing, creativity, ecology, diversity, and community action. Now we’ve outgrown this home, and are working with the local council to get a larger more permanent spot, still in the old market gardens at Telegraph Lane, to help Earth Moves deliver even more projects for local people.
Volunteering at the Community Greenhouse has had such a positive effect on my life, health & wellbeing. I love being there and immersing myself in the peace and contentment that Interacting and working respectfully with Nature brings. I'm always made very welcome and feel my small contribution is valued and my ideas & thoughts likewise are always respected and considered. I feel safe there and on my first visit there Paula & Pete explained their vision and commitment to Cooperative values and I see these values being operated whilst I'm there. I enjoy and am proud to be a part of this inspirational movement, growing fresh, healthy and nutritious food. It brings a sense of purpose and fulfillment to my life and self-esteem. In addition, I enjoy participating in the events that are put on there and I hope that the Greenhouse will continue and flourish so that many others can enjoy the safe haven that it is and the harmony and love that is to be found there.