A group of community spirited canal enthusiasts, working alongside the Trust, have adopted and are transforming a stretch of the Aston Canal in Manchester.
The IWA Manchester Branch will be helping the Trust take care of the Ashton Canal between locks 4 and 10 as part of the charity’s ‘Adopt a Canal’ initiative and were presented with the official adoption certificate last week.
The group currently have 20 volunteers and have already given over 1,500 hours carrying out a variety of tasks ranging from litter picking, vegetation clearance, painting, and planting.
Volunteers recently created a communal vegetable garden at Lock 4 for the enjoyment of the local community, boaters, cyclists and walkers on the Ashton Canal.
Working with Incredible Edibles - a network of local groups around the country which encourages communities to come together by growing food and supporting local food businesses - the garden was completed at a recent work party. 12 volunteers constructed a raised bed and planted it with strawberries, beetroot, chives, onions, parsley and peas. As well as creating the garden, the volunteers also sowed wild flower seeds as the first part of a ‘bee highway’.
Steve Connolly of IWA Manchester Branch said: "We’re encouraging everyone who uses the Ashton Canal to tend to the garden and to pick some vegetables and herbs once they have grown. We have recently adopted this section of the Ashton Canal and think that this is a great way to bring the canal and community together through food for the benefit of all."
Terry Evans, volunteer co-ordinator for the Trust, said: "Canals and rivers are a terrific resource to have on our doorstep and we only hope more people follow the lead of groups like this in caring for their local waterway. The volunteers have done such a fantastic job looking after this section of canal, you wouldn’t think you are in a major urban city. The creation of the vegetable garden is a great idea and will really benefit the local community and visitors alike.
"Our time and money is spent on major priority repairs like repairing locks, bridges, aqueducts and towpaths, so the work of our amazing volunteer groups is essential and brings huge and equally vital benefits.”
Communities across England & Wales are invited to adopt mile-long lengths of canal or river and help transform some of the Trust’s 2,000 miles of waterways, and well over 100 groups have now joined the scheme up and down the country in a bid to improve canals and rivers.