Town Centre allotment is ripe for the picking
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Green figured Leamington residents have kicked off a healthy eating project by launching a unique ‘help yourself’ community allotment, right in the town centre.
Volunteers from the Bromford Hub, which supports adults with learning difficulties, have been getting their hands dirty creating a community garden outside Leamington Town Hall. What makes the project so different is that local residents can come and help themselves to any fresh produce that grows on the plot.
The Leamington Hub, based within the Town Hall, has linked up with the team behind 'Incredible Edible' to launch the project, a campaign promoting organic growing and eating while bringing the countryside into built up areas and disused land.
Supported by the town council, which provided a plot of land by the town hall public toilets, the allotment is open to anyone who would like to get involved and volunteer, with the hope that the project may help change attitudes and build relationships for local people and the learning disabled community.
A number of seeds and tools have been donated, meaning the patch of land already has radishes, chives, garlic, mint, strawberries, gooseberries and rhubarb growing. Bromford’s support customers are also creating a herb garden in the hub, which once established will be transferred to the garden project.
Isobel Gardner, one of a number of local community members who use Bromford’s drop-in services at the Hub, believes the grow-it-yourself garden is a great way to ‘give something back’. She said; “It’s great because we get to see things grow and give back to the community at the same time. I can always taste the difference between fresh food you’ve grown yourself and food bought at the shops. Organic fruit and vegetables just tastes loads better."
On the back of the initiative, the Leamington Hub started thinking of other ways to get customers thinking healthier.
Support Worker Laura Hill is now working with the South Warwickshire Co-Operative to provide fresh produce to local people. She said; “The hub is now one of the collection points for the local food co-op, a group who offer a variety of locally grown and affordable fruit and veg. Orders and money are taken each week by Tuesday lunchtimes and then we receive a delivery on Thursday afternoons.
"A family bag costs £4.50 and contains potatoes, carrots and onions plus two further potions of fruit and two of vegetables. A bag of potatoes alone is around £2.80 these days so you can't argue with the value, and the fact it’s organic just makes it better. "
Despite being in the early stages, plenty of local people are getting involved in the 'Incredible Edible' garden explains Laura; “The Hub found out about Incredible Edible through the town council and some of the customers really love gardening so jumped at the chance of joining in. We've been out in the pouring rain on some days but we haven't let that dampen our spirits."
Local man Derrick Knight originally kicked off the concept in the town. Working on 'sustainable living solutions', Derrick contacted the Bromford Hub to help drum up support for the project, and is still on the lookout for more volunteers. He said, "I wanted something to be done to bring the community together and to think about how you can live in a more eco-friendly manner.
"Similar schemes has already been piloted in other towns throughout the country and has had massive successes in bringing communities together, introducing new skills, promoting health and wellbeing and promoting self worth. We’d love to get more people involved, so if anyone is interested in volunteering, they just need to meet us on a Tuesday at 10am by local café ‘Delicious by FT’."
Bromford have Hubs across Warwickshire with support available in Studley, Atherstone, Leamington and Stratford, offering drop-in support and events for the learning disability community.
For more information on the Hubs visit www.bromford.co.uk/hubs or to get involved with the Leamington Hub contact Dan Jhutti, Hub Advisor, on 07436800954.