The Latest Community Engagement Activities at the Firs Botanical Grounds

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Environmental Sustainability (ES), Guest Authors | 0 comments

Blog by Rachel Grunnill, Botanical Garden Project Development Officer. 

In the heart of the University’s Fallowfield campus sits the Firs Botanical Grounds and Environmental Research Station. This site is home to vital environmental research, teaching, wellbeing activities and community outreach. Their mission is to provide a green oasis in Manchester, researching, educating and engaging the community about biodiversity, food security and the environment. As part of this, the team are hoping to co-develop the site with the public – creating a botanical garden for the 21st century.

The team have already started engaging the community at various events, including Green Together at Manchester Central Library, the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Urban Show in Mayfield Depot, the SoNS PS conference at Midland Hotel and their Community Open Day.

During the RHS Urban Show, the Firs displayed a ‘Content Cube’ with various tips and tricks to show how to ‘Grow your own’ in small, urban spaces, as well as different techniques for plant propagation. There was also a stall which shared the incredible work already going on at the Firs, featuring student groups like BotSoc, the Green Wellbeing Project and Manchester Food Partners: Commit to Community, as well as research from some of the PhD students who use the site. On the stall, the team chatted with Urban Show attendees and got feedback about whether they’d like a botanical garden for Manchester and what they might want from this.

More recently, the Firs hosted “Lost Gardens of Fallowfield” a community open day as part of the University’s bicentennial events. On Saturday 18 May, the site was opened up to the public, hosting a variety of activities that showcased the incredible work already going on at the Firs. There were stalls about the site’s heritage – which dates back to the 1800s; planting workshops from student group Manchester Food Partners: Commit to Community; green relaxation sessions; short research talks; a live performance with music inspired by the plant collection; and much more. The aim of the open day was to get feedback about whether locals would like a botanical garden for Manchester and what they might want from this. 

Lost Gardens of Fallowfield was attended by over 200 people, many of which were local residents and community members. An overwhelming number of visitors provided their feedback and ideas, which will now inform future development of the site. 

Fancy getting involved? The Firs has a range of activities for students and staff. 

  • Staff can organise away days at the Firs, in which they can work on team-building exercises or enjoy the benefits of green spaces through a tour of the site. 
  • Students can get involved in various volunteering opportunities at the Firs, all of which can be found through the Volunteer Hub. Our Green Wellbeing Project is offered as part of the student counselling social prescribing options, allowing students a place to connect with others in nature, promoting social support and wellbeing. 
  • The Firs can also provide outdoor and covered space for a range of teaching activities. Classes can be taught using the living plant collection or in the gardens or marquee. 

Find out more about the Firs on their website or email for updates on the future of the site, or to arrange a visit. 

To find out more about Environmental Sustainability: visit the Faculty’s intranet page, website, read our ES Good Newsletter or contact . For more information on Environmental Sustainability at the University watch this short film or visit their website.