Current Projects

What are we up to?

The Friends of Rowntree Park always have a number of projects on the go! Our big focus in 2021 is on gardening, and improving the Wildlife/Forest School areas. We also run community events and activities.

2021 sees the Centenary of Rowntree Park, so we have been marking this in a number of ways including projects and events. Below is a summary of some of the projects happening at the moment:

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 the Sensory Garden
-The Rose Memorial Garden/Pergola area near the footprint maze
Pollinator Project – new for 2020. This is the area at the Terry Avenue gates. Read more here.

We also have some responsibilities for of the wildlife pond and the Forest School area (story circle/football field area on map). In addition, we have started to propagate our own plans in the Lodge Garden.

When there is the capacity and funding – our gardening also extended the rockery outside the clubhouse, and some planting around the lychgate.

You can read more about gardening areas and our plans/aims 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 (including some small group sessions on Fridays). You can sign up here.
Nature Walks – you can register interest in these by signing up here.
York Mind – we are hosting 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 here.

In addition we have art in the park, Words from a Bench, Art in the Park and lots of community activities happening in the park that help boost all our mental health and wellbeing!

Art in the Park

As part of the centenary celebrations, we asked local artists and the community to create an image of Rowntree Park influenced by a decade or art style of the last 100 years. We have 15 amazing art works on display in the centre of the park. Some of them are also being sold as prints and cards to help raise money for our charity.

Current Project – Words from a Bench

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.

Current Project – Equal Play? Girls and Rowntree Park

Inspired by newly formed charity ‘Make Space for Girls’ we are launching our own research into how older girls use Rowntree Park. 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). If you’d like to read more about the background to to the project and the project itself, you can do so here.

We also have a survey aimed at girls aged 10-17 here – deadline end of Oct 2021.

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. We will need volunteers to help us with this work which started modestly in 2021. Plans include the following a bit at a time will 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 seek volunteers who can help but would also love to hear from anyone who would like to develop some leadership/ownership of areas – maybe you want to learn all about orchards, or have a thing for wildflowers or pondlife? We need you!

Current Project – Pollinator Project

We have successfully been awarded a grant from ‘Betty’s Trees for life‘ fund to create a ‘Pollinator Project’. We have chosen the Terry Avenue gates (an entrance to the park) as the location of this project. We will be working to develop an area with native plants and pollinators. As well as plants and trees, we will also be working with local children’s groups to involve them in pollinator projects. We want to encourage bees and butterflies and other beasties!

Current Project -Park Lodge Plans

As you may (or may not) be aware – the Park Keepers Lodge above the cafe has been vacant since Summer 2017 when the park keeper was made redundant due to council budget cuts. The council 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. Wew need to start funding raising and fine tune the business plan. We are currently seeking a team to make this project a reality! You can see a summary of the proposal here.  We are holding meetings for potential team members in Autumn 2021.

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

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 recent projects…

  • Play Park improvements
  • Railings
  • Duck Houses
  • Labyrinth

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