AS FC United of Manchester celebrate their promotion to the Vanarama Conference North and forthcoming move to Broadhurst Park, behind the scenes, Grass Roots, a unique project in self sustainability is being built behind the stadium’s North Stand.

The FC Diggers group have received a grant of £4,000 from Grow Wild and they are hoping to revolutionise how spare land can be used outside football stadia.

Vinny Ganley, Partnership Manager for Grow Wild, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the conversation about native flowers to reach a new audience and to get football fans to begin to grow their own flowers. Grow Wild inspires people to get together and transform sites into eco-friendly wild flower areas.”

Every Sunday morning at 10am, come rain or shine, The Diggers, twenty hardy and dedicated volunteers, meet at Broadhurst Park to work on this project behind the stadium’s North Stand.

Richard Searle, 52, of Harpurhey, is a leading figure in the group. Richard believes that the Diggers will deliver a project that creates forage for pollinators and an enriching experience for local residents.

He explains: “The range of experience within our group, which includes landscape gardeners and beekeepers, will help. We’ll end up with a unique garden experience in a unexpected place, that otherwise wouldn’t exist without funding.”

Kevin Randall, 45, of Stockport, is a Diggers volunteer and the man who has designed the project. He said: “We’re going to have five separate oval beds. There will be a lot of natural native plants that are going to provide a sanctuary for the local wildlife. My hope is that nearby schools will come out, sit in the area and enjoy what is around them.”

Richard eventually hopes to expand the project. He said: “This opens up another strand of volunteering. You don’t need to be able to sell a programme or fire the perfect twenty five yard volley, on this it’s just a case of can you use a spade? We’ll hopefully have a pond eventually. That is my next aim, the possibilities are endless.”

By Anthony Murphy

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