Wirral Globe news article by Richard Garnett
The man who has created a stunning hidden green space on housing association land - almost single handedly - is appealing to businesses to get involved and push his remarkable project on to the next level.
Jim Barrington leased a plot of waste land on Lyndale Avenue in Eastham off Magenta Housing five years ago and set about turning the prime fly-tipping spot into a beautiful orchard.
The Birkenhead IT consultant, who took on the project as a way to escape the trappings of his desk job, has installed decking at his hidden oasis and is in the process of constructing an open air cafe.
Since lockdown, Jim has been assisted by a group of volunteers who have been looking for things to do while on furlough leave from their jobs.
But with running costs beginning to take their toll, Jim is inviting companies to come on board and help develop the project into a true community space.
Speaking exclusively to the Globe, he said: "I spoke to the housing association and said how about I take over these unused plots of land and turn them into community spaces where people can get some work experience, they can relax and it reduces stress. That's how it started.
"A couple of years ago, I got a late diagnosis as being autistic, which explains an awful lot about me.
"I formed a new organisation called Autisans. It's about giving people work experience, specifically for autistic people or disabled people, people with mental health problems, low confidence, suffer from depression etc."
One of Jim's volunteers is Gill Brookshaw, who has found being involved in the project hugely satisfying.
She said: "I got involved after lockdown - on furlough and knowing that my community could do with good news.
"I was just looking through Facebook and came across a post about the Orchard. During lockdown I had grown lots of veg plants and donated them to people and a local charity stall, so it seemed a great fit.
"I love getting down to the work and love meeting new people and creating something great."
Jim's inspirational orchard project goes under the name Fruit Routes and he is working towards joining it together with Autisans to create Austisan Orchards.
But his plans for expansion don't stop at the installation of a cafe. His vision is a multi-purpose community space with outdoor therapy rooms and classrooms and to create revenue for the orchard by selling the on-site produce, such as organic jams, chutneys and even cider.
Jim added: In the fullness of time, the idea is participants will be able to get skills that can earn them an income."
To find out more information about Jim's project, visit fruitroutes.com