News from Brunswick Nursery
February is York Rotary’s Foundation Month and on February 5th we invited Alison Hughes, Director of Brunswick Nursery to bring us up to date about their 2 projects which have been partially funded by District Grants. In 2019-20 we achieved a Grant to assist with new signage to attract more customers and visitors and in 2020-21, with assistance from RCs Ainsty & Vikings, we achieved a 3-Club Grant to pave and cover the area between the shop and service building. Alison Hughes
Since August 2019 when she took office, Alison has met many fresh challenges, not least those forced on them by the Covid Pandemic. Many of the 68 workers (this number includes the service users), 40 staff and 80+ volunteers have been unable to attend.
Brunswick Organic Nursery has its main site in Appleton Road, Bishopthorpe but also works the Walled Garden of the Archbishop of York’s Palace in Bishopthorpe and at the CVS Centre in Priory Street. Service users (workers) are identified and funded mainly by local authority Care Management Teams but families can self-refer and fund; after assessment, workers are offered a trial period. So, overall funding comes from the local authority payments for places, but has to be topped up donations, grants and fundraising.
Helping people with learning difficulties by providing them with various kinds of work is at the heart of activities. Work, with a small wage, gives the workers purpose, builds meaningful relationships and offers activities beyond their normal life. Service user workers are involved with all aspects of Brunswick activities. Horticulture is the core activity which involves growing, selling and distributing fresh produce and associated garden products. The on-site shop is excellent. The Garden Services Team goes out on external contracts and there are regular deliveries of fresh produce to restaurants etc. The second biggest activity is craft, followed by cooking and woodwork.
The new signage is designed to improve the image to passers-by on the road and cycle track. Our first Grant project was for new signage by the road and cycleway entrances; illustrated here is a new but temporary sign as the redesigned ones have been held up be Covid and the planning application.
The second (and Tri-Club) project was to improve a grassy and often muddy space between the shop and buildings. Alison identified that with social-distancing required when workers return (many are very vulnerable) the dining room and kitchen will be inadequate for breaks. We agreed a project to include a large awning (bought but
not yet erected) over the paved area and RCs Ainsty & Vikings agreed to add funding and support the Grant application. The paved area has already housed a much better Christmas Tree sales area which greatly pleased shop staff. Next - a plaque.
Brunswick cannot stand still. Alison talked of being at a crossroads where there is significant need to support those with learning difficulties and enable individuals to take their own steps into the future; there is potential to provide courses for worker education and offer qualifications, but those ideas are on hold at present. Other developments include new products such as equipment to dehydrate herbs and teas.
The rationale is clear; other places may close, so Brunswick is planning to evolve to meet changing expectations.
Alison and her team plan a big celebration when the workers can return.