Current Projects

What are we up to?

The Friends of Rowntree Park always have a number of projects on the go! These range from gardening and wildlife developments, educational sessions and a range of community events and activities.

On Going Project – Gardening overview

The Friends of Rowntree Park are responsible for the maintenance of certain parts of the park’s gardens. York Council are responsible for the rest. The FRP look after:
The Long Borders
– The two railed gardens – known as the Friends Garden and Rosemary’s Sensory Garden
-The Rose Memorial Garden/Pergola area near the footprint maze
Pollinator Project – new from 2020. This is the area at the Terry Avenue gates. Read more below.
Wildlife area – new from 2021 (4 year project) – more below.

We also built and care for the Forest School area (story circle) and are also in the process of adding a new pond near the play parks. We have a volunteer who cares for the rockery under the cafe, too. We have started to propagate our own plants in the Lodge Garden, the area behind the cafe.

You can read more about gardening areas and our plans/aims here.

Current Projects -Older girls and Rowntree Park

Inspired by the charity ‘Make Space for Girls’, we launched our own research into how older girls use Rowntree Park and seek to make sure older girls feel welcome in the park and use the space. Research shows that, after the age of 8, girls use public parks less than boys, also that boys tend to dominate the facilities in parks aimed at older children (such as skateparks). Therefore finding ways to encourage girls to parks will positively impact – this can impact physical and mental health. If you’d like to read more about the background to to the project and the project itself, you can do so here.

As part of our project, in June 2023 ran full programme of events and activities aimed at girls (and women) in Rowntree Park. We extended that through the summer holidays after achieving some funding from the ward council. Our project continues with two main aims – more equipment in an area girls have asked for, and looking to run more events and activities for teen girls. Read more here.

Current Project – Art in the Park

We have been running ‘Art in the Park’ for the last couple of years and in 2023-24 we have our ‘Seasonal perspectives’ exhibition in the centre of the park – this will run until June 2024. You can buy our calendar, notecards or prints with the artists work featured. Find out more here.

Current Projects – Mental Health and Wellbeing programmes

We have a range of programs and activities that are aimed at boosting mental health and wellbeing. These include:
Volunteer gardening sessions (running most days of the week). You can sign up here.
Nature/History Walks – you can register interest in these by signing up here.
Adult Nature Crafts – we have willow weaving, slow stitch, nature writing and Seasonal Shift adult crafts happening. You can book events here.
York Mind – we have hosted a range of sessions for York Mind including Family Forest School events, Green woodworking (18-25 year olds) and Nature crafts (adults). You can find out more about this program and book your free places via MIND.

We have received some funding from the following groups/organisations to help develop our MHWB programme from 2020 to the present – Micklegate Ward, Ways to Well Being, Benenden Health, and LNER. We continue to look for grant funding and sponsors to be able to offer a wide programme to help people in York.

Current Project – New Wildlife Area

In late 2020, we achieved a grant to start a 4-year project to create our wildlife area at the back of Butcher Terrace Field and improve the beck area. Plans include the following and some parts are underway but there is more to be done!

  • New wildlife pond and turning current pond into a bog garden.
  • improving the walkways and bridges around the beck
  • Improving habitats for wildlife in the beck area and wild area
  • A Forest School shelter/educational area
  • Wildflower areas
  • Improving and caring for our orchard and adding more fruit trees.
  • Benches, paths and ID signs

We have a small group of volunteers who currently meet up some weekends to focus on the project. We welcome more people to get involved – you can come down when free and able. We need you! This project is funded by Yorkshire Water.

Current Project -Park Lodge Plans

As you may (or may not) be aware, the Park Keeper’s Lodge above the cafe has been vacant since Summer 2017 when the park keeper was made redundant due to council budget cuts. The council’s plans for a holiday flat were rejected following opposition, and we have been working on a proposal for a community-based hub since that time.

It took longer than we’d hoped, for a variety of good reasons, but we made a business proposal to the council which was accepted in March 2021 based on some terms. Johnny Hayes has agreed to lead the project group and is working with the council, York Explore and a range of skilled people to get the project to the next stage. You can read updates here.

Current Projects – few more…

We have been working in conjunction with the following groups/organisations:

ParkVR– Reimagining the park experience for virtual reality – MHWB using Rowntree Park – University of York
Branching Out Project – with Loughborough University (a project on storytelling and trees value).
Biodiversity studies – UoY students carry out projects on biodiversity in the park to try and track changes. Looking at things such as bats, wildflowers, soil and more! Green Social Prescribing – we are in a pilot programme for Yorkshire and at times have people signposted to us whose mental and physical health would benefit for getting involved with what we do. NHS practitioners/links chat with individuals and share opportunities like those we offer.
School workshops – schools book into our workshops that are linked to the curriculum including mini beasts, plants and more! We have welcomed local schools such as Knavesmire and Scarcroft, as well as some from further away. More information on workshops is here.

Ongoing Project – Pollinator Project

We were awarded a grant from ‘Betty’s Trees for life‘ fund to create a ‘Pollinator Project’ in 2019. This is an ongoing area of development. We chose the Terry Avenue gates (an entrance to the park) as the location of this project. We are working to develop an area with native plants and pollinators. As well as plants and trees, we have worked, and continue to work, with local children’s groups to involve them in pollinator projects. We want to encourage bees and butterflies and other beasties! This project was funded by Betty’s with support from Two Ridings. The aim is to have various pollinators all year round!

Ongoing Project -Tree Trails

June 2020 sees the launch of our new Tree Trails. Planned by some of our Young Friends and illustrated by local artists, we have a children’s trail and adults trail. The maps highlight suitable routes for prams/wheelchairs. The tree trail is available to buy for just £1. Thank you to Ellie at Nutkin Avenue and Sarah at Studio_32 for their help.

Previous Projects

In April 2021 we added a range of stories and poems to the park. These were written by the community and we have benches around the park with signs up. You can scan the QR code with your phone camera to access a poem or a story. The aim is you enjoy reading as you use the park. A second set of stories and poems went up in July and will remain until September.

Bees & Butterflies with Hippystitch

Through the summer of 2021, Hippystitch ran a community project and asked people to create bees and butterflies to hang in the park. This installation was in the park in the late summer and then items sold to raise funds for the FRP. £485 was raised. We are grateful to Hippystitch and ever one involved.

Rowntree Park Rainbows

From April-June 2020 our craft group instigated a COVID ‘lockdown project’. ‘Rowntree Park Rainbows’ which ran as a display in the park from July- August 2020. Crafters have created rainbow mobiles and one huge rainbow hung from the tennis courts, with a rainbow bench in front!

The rainbows were a big colourful thank you to all NHS staff, key workers and all who have supported one another through ‘lockdown’. Hippystitch worked with us on the project. Rainbows have always been a symbol of hope, and we hope people enjoyed this installation.

Re wilding the woods

In Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020 we were planting wildflower bulbs in the woodland areas. The aim is to reintroduce more native wildlife plants such as snowdrops and bluebells.

Basketball courts

In October 2019, we managed to raise money to start improvements to the basketball courts.  Through a crowdfunding campaign and a donation from Basketball England, we have added new backboards and rims.  We hope to raise money to paint the courts and add benches and bins.


In 2019 we created a Labyrinth with help from York Bike Belles (on an old bowling green) funded by ‘Growing Green Spaces‘. The future of the labyrinth is temporarily under review as it was accidentally mowed by CYC in September 2020!

Other past projects since 2018…

  • Play Park improvements
  • Railings
  • Duck Houses
  • Labyrinth

Do you have an idea for a project, or would you like to help with one?