Brunswick Organic Nursery. Bishopthorpe
Many people with learning difficulties are eager to work and engage with their local community, but find there are few opportunities for them to do so. Brunswick Organic Nursery and Craft Workshops, registered charity (number 1010178) based in Bishopthorpe was founded in 1992 to address this need by offering a productive work place with satisfying work, training opportunities and a constructive social environment.
Twenty years ago, Brunswick took over a rundown site with a broken-down shed on the edge of Bishopthorpe village. Brunswick have transformed it over the years through hard work, support from the local community, volunteers and fundraising. They now have a craft workshop, potting shed, mess room, office and a caretakers’ flat. They also have a shop, currently housed in a temporary building. They have a collection of second hand greenhouses donated by St Johns College and Askham Bryan College, and several polytunnels which have been paid for through fundraising events.
More recently Brunswick took over tending the Archbishop of York’s walled gardens. They renovated the potting sheds within the gardens and have begun to return them to productive spaces. When Archbishop Sentamu was appointed he agreed to be Patron of the charity. He officially ‘opened’ and blessed the gardens when the renovations on the buildings had finished in September 2006.
The work undertaken at Brunswick by people with learning difficulties has grown and developed over the past twenty years, in accordance with workers’ needs and ideas. They currently grow a range of organic fruit and vegetables at their main site on Appleton Road, Bishopthorpe and at the Archbishop’s walled gardens, this is sold through the farm shop, the box scheme and through local shops. Brunswick raise a wide range of plants in pots including herbs, bedding plants and cottage garden perennials also sold from the shop. The gardening team look after gardens for local schools and private individuals, and also run a scheme to prepare people for moving on to paid employment as gardeners in the future.
Brunswick also have craft workshops producing lovely cards, gift-wrapped and woven items, as well as making bird boxes. Other workers work in the busy Brunswick kitchens which provide wholesome food and refreshments for the whole staff-team every day.
The results of the workers’ efforts are appreciated by the local community who buy plants, fruit and vegetables and craft items in the shop, which is open seven days a week. It is located on Appleton Road, Bishopthorpe next to the hump-backed bridge and can also be accessed from the York-Selby cycle track.
Brunswick is a lively, sociable place, so much so that workers, with support, have formed their own Social Club, which helps to combat the social isolation many people with learning difficulties experience. As well as organising events and nights out, the Social Club fundraises and campaigns to raise local awareness of some of the barriers its members face.
Brunswick works as a community, in a sustainable and environmentally-conscious way, and wants to continue to do so! They are currently embarking on a new period of development to make the organisation more self-sufficient in an uncertain world, and are fundraising for investment in improved buildings and infrastructure to stand them in good stead for at least another twenty years!
For more information please visit www.brunswickyork.org.uk
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has been Patron of Brunswick Organic Nursery since 2007.