Green revolution to hit Burnley

St Leonards' Primary pupils Ethan Wilton-Plane (10), Mikayla Thorley (9) and Joshua Kirby (4) get digging on the veg patch at the school as part of the sustainability drive.'Photo Ben Parsons
St Leonards' Primary pupils Ethan Wilton-Plane (10), Mikayla Thorley (9) and Joshua Kirby (4) get digging on the veg patch at the school as part of the sustainability drive.'Photo Ben Parsons

A GREEN revolution is about to hit Burnley which could see the town “blooming marvellous.”

The aim is to transform Burnley into a sustainable beacon with green jobs, first class eco-skills and streets filled with home-grown food.

Plans are to turn the landmark Sandygate Mill in the Weavers’ Triangle into a National Renewable Energy Centre to champion new environmental technologies and ideas.

But hopes are also to forge a more grassroots sustainable future by getting people and neighbourhoods to convert free space into community gardens, vegetable patches and even orchards.

Already schools and local groups have been ploughing ahead with green projects, but 50 key community figures gathered at Turf Moor to plan how these ideas could really take root in Burnley.

Professor Paul Clarke, the driving force behind the Incredible Edible scheme in Todmorden, spoke about how Burnley could “take small steps towards a sustainable future.”

He said: “The idea is very simple. Anyone can do it. There is so much derelict and unused land around Burnley and we want to make it more productive. You can grow things pretty much anywhere.”

He said that getting involved is easy. Any spare land, gardens - or even your windowsill at home - can be used to grow vegetables, from potatoes to lettuce, which can be sold or swopped with other growers in the neighbourhood.

He said: “This is a global movement. Burnley is not Mexico City or Tianjin but it has just the same needs.

“We have to feed ourselves, live sustainably and think about our future and our communities particularly when energy costs are getting higher and higher and food production more expensive.”

All you have to do is plant a seed and watch it grow.

One school really championing the idea is St Leonard’s CE Primary School, Padiham.

Headteacher Julie Bradley said: “We started growing our own food in school and moved on from that to getting the community involved.

“We teach them how to grow food and we have cookery classes and how to cook the things they have grown.”

Now she hopes to push the idea even further - creating a drop-in food centre at the former Fat Giraffe cafe.

“Everything grown in our community gardens and anywhere else that grows food can put products in there and we can teach local people to cook.

“We know if we can do it in Padiham then it can be replicated everywhere.”

Sir John Thursby Community College, which runs a BTEC in horticulture, has two large allotments with chickens and vegetables as well as a wind turbine for electricity.

Headteacher Elaine Dawson said the school was already heavily involved with engaging the community, but said more volunteers were needed to help out.

Burnley Food Links is hoping to roll out a vegetable box scheme this summer and Calico, which owns 4,500 properties, has pledged its support alongside a host of organisations like the NHS and Burnley Football Club.

David Feldman, of The Prince’s Charities which organised the conference, said: “There are a lot of exciting initiatives happening already in Burnley and we look forward to engaging with many more people to make sure this vision of a sustainable Burnley becomes a reality.”

l For more information on how to kick-start a project or grow your own produce see school-of-sustainability.com