District to take part in Yorkshire’s first Rewilding Festival
Last updated May 19, 2023
The edges of the Stray growing naturally

The Harrogate district is to take part in Yorkshire’s first Rewilding Festival to encourage debate about the value of allowing green spaces to grow naturally.

The festival has been organised by the Yorkshire Rewilding Network, a charity that aims to ‘connect, inspire and enable rewilding across Yorkshire’.

Beginning on June 13 there will be a variety of events across the summer which include a day of learning and connection for rewilders, well-being walks and workshops in some of Yorkshire’s most inspiring rewilding sites.  

In the Harrogate district there are activities in High Birstwith, Kirk Hammerton and Summerbridge.

The charity said the idea of a festival was born out of a belief that more is achieved with a message of hope and that bringing people together creates a ‘buzz’ that builds positive momentum.

Samantha Mennell, Yorkshire Rewilding Festival director, said:

“We’re so excited to be launching our first festival, and for us, it’s all about connection.

“Rewilding is always at it strongest when links are being made, whether that’s within landscapes or between people.

“This festival is only possible because of the  new partnerships we’ve made around the region and we’re excited about the amazing chance it gives us to reach out to more diverse audiences and get more people rewilding.”

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‘Rewilding’ The Stray 

In 2021, Harrogate Borough Council sparked a local debate about rewilding when it allowed parts of the Stray to grow naturally.

The council’s parks team left grass verges close to the roadside uncut until late autumn. Some residents welcomed the move, others thought it made the Stray look untidy.

The council then worked with local conservation groups to plant thousands of wildflower plugs between the Empress Roundabout and the Prince of Wales roundabout and down by the railway line.

We are currently in #NoMowMay – a movement started by the charity Plantlife  which calls on all garden owners and green space managers not to mow during May – ‘liberating your lawns and providing a space for nature’.

North Yorkshire Council, which now has responsibility for the Stray’s maintenance, has not gone as far as to stop mowing all public green spaces for a month.

Samatha Mennell said NYC could do more:

“We whole-heartedly agree that the North Yorkshire council should allow public areas to grow wilder as it has a myriad of benefits for biodiversity, carbon draw down and creates cleaner air and water
“In a setting like Harrogate it can be done in a way that is sensitive to the formal nature of the city centre by mowing borders and paths that complement the aesthetic of the town whilst still increasing the flowers, pollinators and birds that bring so much pleasure to its residents.”
For full information on the Rewilding Festival click here. 

Have you tried to rewild your garden? Or taken part in #NoMowMay? Send us your images and tell us how you’ve found the experience. [email protected]

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