St Nicholas Fields became a nature reserve in 2004 and it already plays a vital role in promoting a greener lifestyle in York.
Today St Nicholas Fields amounts to 24 acres and is home to diverse species of animal and plant life, protected and maintained by dedicated volunteers. The reserve is located between Foss Islands Industrial Estate and Tang Hall Lane and its peculiar position is linked to the site’s turbulent past.
Originally the land was leased to St Nicholas’ hospital (1100s) being vast woodland and meadows. Over the years the site changes hands repeatedly: from beautiful fields to a stone scrap yard (1600s); from grazing land to clay extraction and brickworks (1837-1950). Finally, the fields reduce to a landfill site until 1974.
But hope is not lost. In 1992 the Friends of St Nicholas Fields is founded, and not only are the fields converted to their former glory but from this project grows an abundance of community services. You may have noticed St Nick’s recycling team making their way around the city on their load bearing tricycles? Through this zero emissions recycling scheme St Nicholas Fields won the national Biffa Climate Conscious Award in 2007. John Cossham, founder of York Rotters- an associated composting project – considers that ‘climate change is the biggest issue we face as a species and York has its part to play’ and says that ‘some people love St Nicholas Fields and make it a regular part of their lifestyle’.
So how do you get involved? If you are a gardening fanatic or wildlife expert, the project has plenty of maintenance and research tasks available. If you are camera-happy you can help build the photographic database. Or why don’t you try your hand as a York Rotter?
For more information visit the York Environment Centre, Rawdon Avenue, York, YO10 3ST and the website here.
Image courtesy of The Photography King.