Diggers move in at Cornfield Project

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Work is now well underway to transform a patch of land between the Ballysally and Millburn estates into a beautiful shared space.

Last year The Cornfield Project’ won the public vote to become Northern Ireland’s flagship site for Grow Wild, the UK-wide wild flower initiative.

The project, a joint enterprise between Ballysally and Millburn received £120,000 to transform and develop an underused area between the two estates, strengthening community links and transforming the space into an engaging, exciting space that will benefit local residents by bringing people together with wild flowers.

The Cornfield Project also aims to tackle issues of low employment and health by creating activities which will increase people`s confidence, enable them to develop new skills and bring opportunities for fun and education.

This week diggers arrived to clear the site to build community training gardens and a new wetland area.

The local communities will be directly involved in wild flower sowing and growing, will create beautiful sensory gardens in which to wander, grow their own veg, provide outdoor classroom space for schools, give their young people somewhere to go and something to do, and much more.

Project manager Catherine Armstrong told The Coleraine Times: “It’s great to see this work underway and very exciting for all of us.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the people of both estates and we are now looking for more volunteers to help work on the project and bring the gardens to life.”

Catherine is especially keen to hear from wildlife enthusiasts, gardeners, people with interest in children’s gardening, event volunteers, woodwork skills, photographers, a local historian to share stories on the area and the cornfield.

Brendan Patterson, who has been involved in the Cornfield Project from the outset, said: “We have received an incredible amount of support for The Cornfield Project for which we’re very grateful.

“We can’t wait to get started on the project and bring the estates of Millburn and Ballysally together to improve their surroundings, bring new skills and development to the area.”

In addition to the £120,000 initial funding, the flagship site will also receive £15,000 in 2016 for continued activities with local people, especially focusing on those aged 12 to 25. The site will become the national example demonstrating how people and partner organisations can turn spaces into beautiful, inspiring and colourful wildlife havens.

Grow Wild is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across the UK to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers.