Essex rail station platforms feature community herb gardens and wildflowers thanks to partnership

Tuesday, 3 August 2021
Greener Anglia

Sudbury herb gardens

Miniature herb and wildflower gardens have been installed at seven rail station platforms in Essex thanks to a community rail partnership project.

Wooden planters filled with a variety of herbs have been installed on the platforms at Greater Anglia’s Colchester, Great Bentley, Sudbury, Witham, South Woodham Ferrers and Althorne stations and two large wildflower planters will provide a haven for pollinating insects at Bures.

Once the herb gardens have become established people will be able to help themselves to fresh herbs or enjoy their scent as they wait for trains.

The project was funded by the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and the Community Rail Network and the planters were installed by the Bee Friendly Trust.

They will be cared for by Greater Anglia’s volunteer station adopters who help to look after their local rail stations.

Jayne Sumner of the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, said, "We’re very grateful to the Bee Friendly Trust, the Community Rail Network and our station adopters for their support of this project. We hope the planters will attract and support bees and other wildlife and also brighten up the platforms for passengers, who are welcome to grab a handful of fresh herbs as they pass through."

Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said, "The herb gardens and wildflower planters are a wonderful addition to these stations and will help to make them more attractive and welcome to passengers and provide a boost for wildlife too. We’re very grateful to everyone involved in helping to make these stations more sustainable and welcoming."

Rail stations in East Anglia are increasingly becoming havens for local wildlife thanks to the efforts of volunteers who have transformed land the equivalent of five Olympic-sized swimming pools into thriving wildlife gardens.

Greater Anglia’s team of station adopters – who help to look after their rail stations for the benefit of their communities – increased the total area of station garden across the network by 14% last year and devoted much of it to creating wildlife friendly areas.The gardens, some of which have been developed over many years, are becoming havens for local wildlife populations – with the railway increasingly being recognised by ecologists as a ‘green corridor’ which provides a sanctuary for many different kinds of flora and fauna.

In a recent survey, Greater Anglia station adopters reported a wide range of creatures visiting their stations including many different types of butterflies as well as bees, slow worms, bats, foxes, deer and many varieties of birds, recording more than 200 different species.

Greater Anglia has joined the rest of the rail industry in pledging to make stations across Britain more sustainable.

Action to reduce waste, support local wildlife and cut the carbon footprint of railway stations will be informed by the industry’s new Sustainable Stations: Best Practice Guide, which details ways in which train operators can meet this commitment in support of global goals of decarbonisation, reducing waste and supporting local plant and animal life.