September 24th 2019

Gold medal-winning garden designer Sara Edwards of Herefordshire, has been commissioned to ‘green up’ the drab, urban surroundings of a social enterprise company passionate about achieving balance between people and the planet.

Sara, whose first ever show garden, ‘Defiance’ earned her coveted RHS Gold and Best in Category awards at the national RHS Malvern Spring Festival earlier this year, is working with Hereford Yoga Centre (www.herefordyoga.co.uk) and CUP Ceramics (www.cupceramics.com) to create a green and welcoming community space on the city’s grey and built-up Foley Trading Estate.

‘Green Up Foley’ aims to transform the site’s rather soul-less 1970s warehouse units on tarmac, with a vibrant diversion – in the shape of an attractive, wildlife-friendly, inclusive garden, where people can come together and socialise.

It’s hoped that the hundreds of locals who come to Foley each week to take part in community activities such as yoga, martial arts, roller skating, ceramics, dance and training, will sit amongst the flowers, strike up new friendships and generally enhance their own health and well-being by engaging with others.

The project’s intentions are reminiscent of the RHS ‘Greening Grey Britain’ initiative which seeks to reverse the trend of paving over front gardens, in an effort to restore national health and encourage wildlife.

Sara’s company, No.30 Design Studio (www.no30design.co.uk), is working with fellow Hereford Yoga Centre user, designer Julian Pilkington (www.jpilk.com), and an army of volunteers. She’s excited by the possibilities of a determined, collaborative effort to impact change.

“Green Up Foley is a true community project”, she says, “with funding coming from many sources, including The National Lottery Community Fund, and the Postcode Lottery Community Trust among others. By creating a shared green space at Foley, we hope to make a valuable and lasting contribution to the overall social regeneration of our city.

Of course, the benefits of social interaction, as opposed to isolation, are well documented, and social engagement is associated with better physical and mental health; boosting the immune system, improving mood and even lowering the risk of dementia.

According to the World Health Organisation, having access to green spaces, and doing physical activity in a natural environment can reduce health inequalities and stave off mild depression. Creating a safe and pleasant outdoor environment for Foley Estate users makes perfect sense all round.”

Hereford Yoga Centre Managing Director, Jenny May White, said: “The new Foley Community Garden is a shared green space for our city to be enjoyed by all. It will incorporate accessible, social seating, café tables and bike storage, flowering plants to attract pollinating insects and other wildlife, trees to improve air quality, and outdoor lighting to provide reassuring security.

Led by Sara and the design team, a dedicated group of volunteers of different ages and diverse backgrounds will help to create and maintain the garden, which will encourage cross-generational friendships, an exchange of skills and knowledge and improved well-being of those actively involved and those who drop by.

We will evaluate how and how often people use the garden and carry out a follow-up consultation after a year, to see how we can improve on what we have achieved. I am delighted to be working with Sara, Julian and CUP Ceramics and excited to see the results.”

Work on the garden will begin in the Spring of 2020, and crowd-funding is already in place: https://youtu.be/kw65nwzODis