Dig the City: Manchester’s urban gardening festival hopes youths will blossom into budding green-fingers

Manchester’s first ever Gardener in Residence is hoping the seeds have been sown to attract an army of green-fingered gardening enthusiasts when Dig the City gets underway tomorrow.

A joint venture from The National Trust and Manchester City Council, the nine-day-long event will feature no less than 18 garden shows across St. Anne’s Square, King Street, New Cathedral Street and Victoria Street.

Sean Harkin, who took on the role as Manchester’s Gardener in Residence last year, believes it’s crucial to engage with younger generations to sow the seeds for a blossoming future.

He told MM: “There’s a worry in the industry that enough young people are not getting into gardening, so we’re doing different initiatives to encourage young people especially to join in.

“We’re running a campaign with the National Trust called 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.

“It’s things like rolling down a hill or climbing a tree, but also growing seeds and loads of other simple things we’ll be doing in Dig the City week in St Anne’s square.”

Sean says the event will give young people the opportunity to try their hand at gardening, and he says they may be surprised at how rewarding it feels.

“I think if you don’t know it you won’t do it so just giving people taster sessions to get involved with things will help,” he said.

“I think people lack a taste but when they try they are interested and want to know. They don’t necessarily have to commit all their time to it and generally it’s a sociable activity.”

One way Dig the City are trying to appeal to the younger generation Is by utilising social media.

Sean said: “Social media keeps moving on and whichever way it goes generally young people generally pick it up first.

“Twitter is a really good way to engage with a younger audience and also before you start gardening you might like to hear other people gardening or tips on what to do.

“It’s like a really short way to get involved without doing loads of research or getting books out.

“It’s a good way of engaging with a younger audience and if we don’t do that in the gardening world then we’re missing out on a massive audience.”

Sean argues the benefits of gardening are wide ranging, from being able to socialise with like-minded people to keeping fit and eating healthy.

“When you grow and pick your own tomato it tastes amazing whereas supermarket ones, especially in off season don’t taste of much,” he told MM.

“Also the physical activity of gardening just encourages a healthier lifestyle, being outside, more active and there’s a power effect there when all those things combine it encourages healthier eating.”

Despite increasing obesity numbers in the UK, with more and more people preferring to shun outdoor activities, Sean is optimistic the hobby can continue to evolve as the world around us changes.

“The future of gardening is good and bright,” he added. “Gardening styles change and evolve and the current way is looking to low maintenance gardening and I really like that style.

“In the future it will keep evolving in different places.

“In England gardening is such a big deal I can’t see it going backwards I can only see it going forwards.”

Dig the City will take place between August 2 -10. For more information, click here.

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