To mark 'Community Rail Week' 2022, Alderley Edge Station Volunteer Group created some unique new planters for the station. They used an old pallet and a kitchen shelf unit found in a skip and repurposed two plastic grit bins deemed surplus to Northern Trains future requirements.
During lockdown the group had purchased some traditional wooden planters and some half barrel planters funded by grants and donations.
Group Chair Kelvin Briggs said "Group members felt it was time to be bold and think outside the box to acquire more planters. We decided to tackle the challenge of up-cycling waste items in to planters and combine the activity with Community Rail Week.
"We invited members of 'Time Out Group' a local group for young adults with learning disabilities to 'Give the Train a Try' and travel from Handforth Station to help plant herbs in the new planters, enjoy a picnic lunch and socialise with our volunteers and guests from Northern Trains and the Community Rail Network."
Northern Trains had recently announced that they were organising a 'Grit Bin Challenge, a competition for station adopters to repurpose and up-cycle old yellow plastic grit bins no longer required for operational use. Northern's maintenance contractor, ISS kindly released the bins from their corroded fixings and volunteers pressure cleaned the hard plastic bins and drilled drainage holes.
Thick 'Night Blue' paint was applied and volunteers transformed the waste items in to bright blue planters with drain holes and dressed them with stickers, signage and hand painted features using acrylic paints and pens.
The young adults planted up the recycled kitchen plate rack, filling it up with peat-free compost and a mix of herbs and perennial plants. Some enthusiastic watering followed and painted stones were added to the planters depicting the names of the herbs and the groups involved in the project.
A picnic lunch was enjoyed by all before Martin Clarke from the Community Rail Network treated the happy gathering to some violin Ceilidh music. Time Out Group then took the train back to Handforth with warm smiles and requests to come back soon.
The pallet herb planter was added a few days later. This involved a few design revisions but finally it was fixed to a wall behind the Manchester platform and planted up.
Kelvin added "What a fun time we had making the planters and engaging with the Time Out group. The next challenge is to keep the planters all watered and stocked with plants all year round. We are seeking new volunteers to join us and help make the station a more welcoming place. Another key goal is convincing Network Rail and Northern Trains that a renovation and repaint of the station is long overdue."