How Wild is Your Workplace?

underused space around workplace in Salford, Matt Doogue
Macro photographer and wildlife enthusiast Matt Doogue tells us about his vision to create a #wildworkplace in Manchester, and beyond….

What is #WildWorkPlaces? #WildWorkPlaces is a vision to transform all the concreted, derelict and unused land around our workplaces into wildlife havens, works' gardens and nature hotspots.

The idea came from my own workplace – a factory in Salford, Manchester. I was walking around the site and I noticed that much of the land owned by my workplace is barren and not being used, square meters upon square meters of it.

Unless you're lucky enough to work in the countryside or a national park, I would almost guarantee that your workplace is much like mine! This is where #WildWorkPlaces comes into play: read on to discover how you can utilise that land and make a difference to your own workplace.

Our wildlife, especially bees and butterflies, is in decline, but it’s within our power to do something to help. Growing native plants and wild flowers is a fantastic way of attracting wildlife back to built-up or industrial areas. And it’s great for people too! Imagine having your lunch in a colourful, sweet-smelling garden, rather than a dull grey canteen area. Maybe you're having a bad day and need somewhere to escape to on your lunch hour – being surrounded by nature is a brilliant antidote to work-related stress. 

Now all workplaces are different. Some of you who work in office blocks in town centres might read this and think, "but we don’t have any spare land". Why not hang some baskets up or put some pots at the entrance to your building? You’d create a more welcoming environment for yourself and co-workers, while helping local butterflies and bees.

Don’t have access to grass? Pots, tubs and wooden planters can easily turn a dull concreted area into a beautiful floral masterpiece. Add some benches and, hey presto, you have a pleasant works’ garden, a #WildWorkPlace. It is important however that we don't alter or change any brownfield sites, as they are vital for our wildlife. Click here for tips about choosing your site see and sowing with containers.

My colleagues and I in Salford have already made a start by signing up for free Grow Wild seed kits – enough to transform over 900 square metres with UK native wild flowers. We plan to create a small wildflower meadow and works’ garden by reusing old pallets and drums from around our site. Some of the drums will be cleaned and used as water butts for collecting rainwater. Others we’ll cut in half and use as planting tubs for wild flowers and plants. With the old pallets we intend to create benches, bug hotels and planters. 

Lots of people from our factory are not only donating their free time at weekends, they’re giving ornaments and plant pots to decorate the garden. Why not give your own workplace a make-over? Grow Wild seed kits are available until 14 Feb 2016 - register for your kit here.

Words and pictures by Matt Doogue