Local people are in full bloom at community allotment

16th March 2022

A community allotment based in Saffron Walden is receiving much needed funding that will help more residents to enjoy the outdoors and grow their own fruit and vegetables while socialising and improving mental health

Set up in 2011 by a group of volunteers, the Dig It Community Allotment, off the Walden Road, has recently reopened and is getting ready for the Spring/Summer season.

A grant received in 2020 of £4,806 meant they were able to buy new tools, make the site socially distanced and safe, while providing mental health support to members to reduce isolation and support well-being.

The funding came from the Britvic Community Fund which is managed by independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Laura Thompson-Harper, from Dig It, said: “The allotment is an important place where people come together to socialise while learning how to grow different produce.

“Our experienced team of sessional workers support our service to develop their knowledge in growing and horticulture. Our service users are from a wide range of backgrounds and many are involved in the project to reduce isolation and improve mental and physical health.

“Being in the outdoors has so many benefits for health and well-being and it not only helps to keep our members fit, but also means they can socialise and talk about things that may be worrying them.  Strong friendships are made through the activities and the groups are wonderful.

“Everything we grow is shared out among our members so everyone can take fresh ingredients home for dinner.”

Laura added, “We are so grateful for this grant. It has made a huge difference and enabled us to develop our site, expand our offering and meet the needs of our community”.

Dig It’s activities in the community have included an ‘earth oven building’ course in collaboration with Fairycroft House and Art @ the Allotment sessions. They also work in collaboration with Saffron Walden Mencap Society and Cornell Café  through a group run specifically for service users of these settings.

They are open for two sessions a week (from Feb-Nov) on Monday 9.30am -12.30pm and Friday 10.30am -13.30pm. Art @ the allotment is running fortnightly till June. For more information please visit http://dig-it.org.uk/ or contact info@dig-itgardens.co.uk

The site is wheelchair friendly, with raised beds, as well as play areas for children. Doga are also welcome.

Andy Payne Worpole, Head of Programmes at ECF, said: “Thanks to our fundholders, we can help groups like Dig It to grow and develop their work in response to the needs of their communities.”

If you are a local charity or community project in Essex that needs funding to support your work, call us on 01245 356018.