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Telegraph Lane 

Community Perm​acul​ture,​ Gardening, 

Creativity and Education


LEARN MORE

Telegraph Lane 

Ecological Community Gardens

The Earth Moves Community is very grateful to be instrumental in the restoration and re-utilization of Telegraph Lane, on the old market gardens in Wallasey, where we are based. Its beauty, mystique, and story of food growing and human activity reach back to Mesolithic times. We are honoured to be the latest chapter in this story. 


We have already added significantly to the biodiversity of Telegraph Lane.  


We have created two gardens and grown exotic plants and herbs in our large polytunnel, which we also use as a social and meeting place. 


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 wildflower meadows since the 1930s. Losing our wildflowers has a real impact on ecosystems. 


Before our interventions, the site had a limited pallet of mainly invasive plants. The meadow is the result of a lot of hard work by a group of amazing volunteers.


Our aim is that this project is part of a larger environmental program, ran by and for grassroots-based communities. 


Climate change and climate and personal/community resilience,

are issues that are a the core of our work.

Permaculture and Community

The principles of permaculture illustrate a method of living that is both optimizing for people and the planet.


We have begun to create our ], creative permaculture project, transforming land, people, and community and looking at what good psychological health means.  We aim to connect to an international movement that seeks a fairer, more inclusive, ecologically sensitive, and kinder world.


For the past three years, Wallasey’s Earth Moves Cooperative has been planning and preparing to move their community gardening and ecological projects to our new site on the Leasowe Road market gardens.


We have involved the community in a  process of consultation as well as those locally, who are 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; https://spiralseed.co.uk/product/forest-gardening-practice-tomas-remiarz/handWe have conducted detailed surveys of the site's natural ecology - consulting local botanist and conservationist Dr. Hilary Ash.

We appreciate the assistance of the Wirral Council who are collaborating with us by providing facilities.

Earth Moves Journey  . . .

In the winter of 2016, a group of diverse individuals from the local community came together, as an informal association,  between the linked issues of a lack of effective environmental action at a grassroots level and how this relates to community resilience, the environmental crisis, mental health, the collapse of local food growing, and a disengaged, disempowered, disconnected public.


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. 


In 2017 we funded the project from our own resources, volunteer time, hard work and commitment.


Within 2 years we had engaged over 200 people at the greenhouse mainly from Wallasey, Leasowe, and Birkenhead where we grew food crops, learned about biodiversity and permaculture techniques and shared nature-based creative and wellbeing activities. We made the connections between the ecological and social challenges.

 

Between then and now, our transformative endeavors have earned us pockets of funding from Awards for All, the National Lottery Community Fund, The Alef Trust, Comic Relief,  Groundwork, Community Chest, Bright Ideas Fund, and The Lottery COVID Fund.

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 safe and supportive space.


Using an exploration of the local environment as a starting point we made our creative and educational events and actions accessible, creative, diverse, and fun. This stimulated interest in personal, community, and environmental well-being creativity and development, through an enquiring, cooperative, and nurturing ethos following principles of ‘natural progression’.

Our current project in Telegraph lane is amplifying and developing these themes.

Community Food Production

We have grown salads, vegetables, and fruit for our community. It is hoped that we can grow food for local consumption by drawing on a mixture of horticultural, but particularly permaculture designs.  Our research looks at ways to link food production with ecological practices, nature conservation. and social needs. Earth Moves see this permaculture aspect as a distinctive component of our management of the land, providing innovative opportunities for the public to participate through volunteering, courses, workshops and events. We encourage diverse members of the community 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 wellbeing. 


Our ambition is to develop accredited courses leading to qualifications and ultimately a permaculture land college and environmental knowledge hub. In 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 co-operative 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 by providing consultancy to other community sites across Wirral and beyond.

Learning from the Environment 

and the impacts of Climate Change

Thanks to the support of the Bright Ideas Fund we are currently working with international permaculturist Tomas Remiarz (author of Forest Gardening in Practice), who has designed a detailed plan with information received from the community. 


Through this start-up support from Bright Ideas Fund, we were also able to broaden our project consultations through community events and workshops during 2021. We are keen to link up with local nature, ecology and community groups to see how we could co-operate to develop the social, ecological and economic benefits. We have consulted with local interested parties who have expressed relief that our project is taking place rather than an un-environmentally friendly alternative.


We will run courses at the site through Wirral Lifelong Learning. These are in 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, drawn both from our immediate local neighborhoods and from further afield in Wirral and Liverpool City Region.

.


Themed Edible Gardens

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 and this was supported by the Alef Trust. Horticulture, permaculture, nature immersion, wellbeing and connectivity are all a part of the ethos of the gardens.


We have created a large polytunnel as a meeting, growing, creative and spiritual space. 

Collectively Growing

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 and this grew our community also.

 

We are currently raising funds for a number of projects including,  a Gothic Neuro-diverse -Bio-diverse Garden, as well as a sensory healing garden, a vintage heritage garden, a themed edible sculpture garden, incorporating a nature trail through the wilder areas of the site.


It is important to Earth Moves that getting involved in the land is a diverse, fun and educational experience thereby helping build a future lifestyle for all with horticulture, permaculture, and nature-loving practice at its heart.

Medusa

As well as our meadow we have created a mini-pilgrimage route, a serpentine path through dense brambles, that concludes in a life-size Medusa statue that was co-created by the community.

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 processes of succession.


Apart from the fields at the Green Lane end most of the fields are waterlogged and flooded through the winter.  


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 useful 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.


 By draining the fields through developing the ditches into a series of swales and wetlands, willow carrs and ponds will further help increase biodiversity.  Ecosystems can be enriched can be encouraging a range of habitats and niches, as well as developing water catchment and irrigation for the dry summer months. This ‘blue infrastructure', along with edible hedgerows,  will create 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 will be applied to the growing zones, to increase fertility and equally to raise the level of the land.

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. 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 will also operate 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 and meeting place, a therapy/wellbeing venue, and a center for land-based education and training. 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 operations of food distribution and 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.


Our project is creating community-inspired sculptures of intersectional, international life-size mythic beings. They decorate the land and we are planning to do twelve in all. These sculptures are made in an interactive collaborative way and reflect diversity.

You can see pictures of our events here in our gallery

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, whereby the mutual interests of individuals, communities, and the natural world are divided by alienation, 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 a range of charitable aims foremost of which are education, horticulture, and community development.


As a co-operative, we are pledged to improve and grow the environment for further co-operative development and encourage the setting up of a local co-operative business community. It would appear 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 measurement of biodiversity land units, local communities have already lost out on income generation in exchange for so-called ‘ecosystem services'. The project is in part 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.

Safe Spaces

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 activivites.


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 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.

The Belisama Green-House- Community growing, learning, and creativity 

Community Growing and Secular Temple 

greenhouse volunteer sacred meeting Belisama



A living,  growing venue that offers well-being, creativity, education and a community. 

We aim to provide a natural environment, all year round for events and meetings.

A better future is possible, this project aims to enrich the community and possibly other communities for years to come. We are providing a sustainable growing community and a spiritual, secular and creative venue. 

Our activities promote cultural diversity, international growing techniques, intergenerational activities, and volunteer opportunities.

Growing food together is a powerful way to feel connected to each other, our ancestors and nature.

team greenhouse permaculture community meeting volunteer donate

Community Growing Space and Venue


In October 2016 we were given the use of a large commercial Greenhouse that was derelict since 2004. We have reanimated the space and ran events from there. 

Sunshine and plants improve wellbeing and there is much scientific research to demonstrate this. many of our volunteers have commented on the well-being effects in the greenhouse.

We have already created a community of like minds. This group are volunteers for space and freelancers.  We are looking for more people to join us. We have worked with other organizations including Wirral Evolutions, which are an organisation that provides activities for people with learning difficulties.

We have already generated a living, growing venue and sacred space that offers healing, education and a way to serve a  community that grows food,  but also offers personal growth through creativity and meditation. To be truly accessible to others we need funding to renovate the space and make it comfortable for a wide range of people.

We are creating a  green all-weather environment throughout the year for events and meetings



team greenhouse permaculture community meeting volunteer donate



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