Community gardening project needs your votes

A community gardening project has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award, ­and we need your support by voting today.

Incredible Edible Valley in Liverpool is in the running for a Community Impact Award by the National Housing Federation, under the Greener Living category.

As part of the Federation’s Community Impact Week, all this week (6-12 November) people have the chance to show their support and vote.

Incredible Edible Valley is a community project supported by Riverside that has turned open spaces into plots where fruit, veg and flowers can grow.

The project is located around Belle Vale, and led by Chair Richard Kelly it has already won a Liverpool Echo Environment Award.

He said: “Land next to bus stops, a primary school and even the grounds of a doctors’ surgery… they’ve all become community growing spaces thanks to Incredible Edible Valley.

“The initiative is for the whole community to get involved in and benefit from. It is a volunteer-based project for people to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs together on public green space, pick and eat it.

“It all began after Riverside attended an Incredible Edible conference with the idea of residents growing free food locally – and as we have great community spirit in Belle Vale this was something that would benefit everyone.

“Riverside donated £5,000 to purchase gardening equipment and plants. In addition, they helped us secure further funding from charitable funds and over a hundred wild fruit trees from The Woodland Trust. The housing association has also provided us with a garden coordinator for two days a week to support us and oversee the initiative.

“Our main base for Incredible Edible Valley is at Widmore Gardens; an allotment site owned by Riverside with plots rented out to residents, Lee Valley Pensioners Group and Palmerston School. So far we have 13 planting sites across the area with a range of fruit, vegetables and herbs looked after by our dedicated group of volunteers.”

Local organisations and gardeners of all ages are involved; including nursery children and residents of Riverside’s retirement living scheme.

Richard added: “Children from St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School are involved and have created an allotment in the school grounds. Ripened produce is then used in school dinners and any produce left over is given to parents.

“We liaise with them and give gardening advice on what will grow. This approach ensures that everyone is kept engaged, and supports our longer term sustainability of growing, picking and eating the produce.

“In just one year we have achieved so much, and established ourselves as a strong community group of volunteers. We are continuing to strive to enhance the neighbourhood’s green spaces, and involve and empower locals to make the area a healthier place to live.”

The Incredible Edible Valley project won an Echo environment award in April, and is now in the running for a national community impact award. Please support this project by casting a vote for this great initiative. Voting closes November 12.

In addition, to mark the awareness week we will be highlighting some great stories about how we help our customers transform their lives.

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