Growing Works began as The Holme Valley Gardening Network in 2009 with Elaine Thelier and Helen Scott joining together to create a space for growers to come together for support, encouragement and to share a passion for working the land.
The Wooldale Allotment Gardens were officially opened on 1st May 2010. The field was converted to 22 allotment sized plots allowing more families to be involved and those new to growing, opportunities to learn on smaller plots. The Wooldale Allotment Association was formed in December 2010 to oversee the management of the site.
Funding was secured to expand the network, enabling our team to grow and work began to spread throughout Kirklees with the Sprout, Bud and Pod projects organised from an office base in Shepley. A change of name to Growing Works was then made in order to reflect this increasing geographical reach.
In January 2015 Growing Works became a registered charity and in 2016 a move was made to Hope Bank Works community centre where Sprout sessions could run from the charity’s base. A new project called Young Mentors (now Young Shoots) was then introduced for children graduating from Sprout. This exciting project aimed to provide opportunities for young people to learn life skills and develop socially while remaining in the relaxed and accepting atmosphere they had enjoyed at Sprout.
The move to Hope Bank Works allowed space for the Herb Nursery to expand, providing volunteering opportunities where local people could get involved in developing the nursery and creating traditional crafts for sale, raising money for the main projects. Volunteer sessions at this site proved popular and have become a project where people can explore opportunities within the charity and gain support in a number of ways.
After the closure of Hope Bank Works at the end of 2017 we moved our office to Paddock Village Hall and secured Crow Nest Park in Dewsbury for our regular Sprout sessions. During 2018 we were also able to use Almondbury Community School to run Sprout and therefore delivering activities in both North and South Kirklees.
Growing Works moved to Wakefield Road Allotments at the end 2018 and began developing a therapeutic space from which to run its many sessions. Throughout 2019 we began transforming the site from a jungle of brambles to a welcoming space with multiple growing beds, wild areas and a luxury composting toilet!
The pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 stalled the development of the site. However, we were glad to be able to provide support to individuals and the community throughout this time, at first staying connected virtually and then, once allowed due to the outside nature of our work, providing a safe space for small groups of people to come together to reconnect with nature and each other.
Work continues as we develop our outdoor therapy site at Wakefield Road Allotments. 2022 saw us install hügelkultur style growing beds and accessible pathways. We have installed a pond to increase the biodiversity of the site and thanks to The Woodland Trust we will be planting a wild food hedgerow in early Spring. We run Bud sessions twice a week from the site with participants codesigning the space with us. We also run regular Edible Growing Courses, Mindful Making events and Adult Bushcraft sessions. With a mixture of site development, gardening, cooking, bushcraft, and conservation taking place, it is fast becoming a vibrant community resource encouraging outdoor activity.
We work closely with our community partners to develop activities that support our local geographic community and communities across Kirklees and have been able to provide outreach sessions at Tolson Museum and Oakwell Hall as well as continuing our outreach at the Almondbury and Dalton Community Gardens.
Throughout 2023 we will be continuing to adapt our Wakefield Road Allotment site to provide more food growing spaces. Check out our What’s On page to see how you can get involved!