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Clearance kick-start for community allotment
Disused land in Barlaston now looks set for a new lease of life thanks to the latest Growing Health project led by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) in partnership with Stafford Borough Council.
The land off Meadow Road is set to be transformed into community allotments after the project received a welcome boost by a team of young people from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prince’s Trust Team programme. Together they cleared the area of weeds and rubbish to help kick-start the project.
Alison Poole, Community Involvement Officer at SARH, explained: “The Growing Health scheme is proving a huge success, encouraging people to eat healthily whilst getting out and about in the fresh air.
“Community allotment projects have been a key ingredient in its success, and we are delighted that the site in Barlaston is now ready for its first crops.
“This latest project in Barlaston will give families and community groups all the seeds, tools and skills they need to manage an allotment plot over the growing season – improving their dietary habits, increasing physical activity levels and helping them to spend more time with family and neighbours.”
Alison explained that many of the people who had expressed an interest in tending a plot on the allotment were young mums who felt they weren’t quite ready for some of the heavy lifting involved in preparing the site, which was covered in brambles and fly-tipped rubbish.
After a successful bid for support from the Service’s Prince’s Trust Team programme, which helps young people gain valuable work experience, the allotment has now been transformed. Over eight days 16 young people, aged between 16 and 25, filled four skips with rubbish and recycled other items to make interesting allotment features.
They also helped to raise over £200 for the project by bag packing at two local supermarkets and taking part in an indoor triathlon.
“They did a fantastic job, and we would like to thank Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prince’s Trust Team programme for its support, and the young people taking part for all their hard work,” Alison said.
Joyce Underwood, Team Leader of the Prince’s Trust Team programme, said: “This is one of many projects that the young people are doing as part of the Team programme course to prepare them for work, training or further education in the future. Voluntary work such as this is a great way for the participants to boost their confidence, gain social experience and learn skills such as time keeping, hard work and professionalism which will stand them in good stead as they look towards their futures.”
As well as looking for individuals to tend plots on the allotments, SARH is also looking for local community groups, including schools, Guides and Scouts, to get involved.
Those taking part will receive free tools and seeds, together with mentoring from an allotment expert for a year, to get them up and running and growing their own healthy food. The project has been funded through the ‘Building Stafford and Surrounds Healthy Future Commissioning Prospectus’ following a joint bid application between the Borough Council and SARH.
Anyone interested in joining in should contact the housing association’s Community Involvement Team on 0800 111 4554 or see www.sarh.co.uk/growinghealth.