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News release from: 07/02/2023

Community garden officially launches in Northstowe

Community garden officially launches  in Northstowe

Community gardening opportunities have been launched in Northstowe in a day of action to encourage local people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

The Northstowe Horticultural Association (NHA) held a community day to plant a mini orchard of around 30 fruit trees, including plum, pear, apple, and cherry trees, and build raised gardening beds for use by local people.

The event was supported with a Zero Carbon Communities grant of £5,800 from South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Northstowe Horticultural AssociationNorthstowe Horticultural AssociationCllr Bill Handley, Lead Member for Communities who attended the Northstowe community day, said: “We are really pleased to support this initiative to encourage people to grow their own food. Gardening has a multitude of benefits; I am a keen gardener, and have an allotment, and know how helpful it was for me both mentally and physically during the pandemic."

He continued: "Allotment-holders tend to be a sociable bunch and chat while working on their plots and experienced growers will always offer help and advice to newcomers. At the Northstowe community day, it was great to see children of all ages helping out and there was a real buzz as trees were planted and the raised beds started to take shape."

Cllr Handley added: “It may seem a bit of a stretch to make a connection between gardening and climate change but there is a direct relationship between how we as a nation grow and distribute our food and the carbon emissions that are a major contributor to global warming. Community gardening projects such as the one in Northstowe help people to find out, through experience, how their food is grown and what choices impact the nutritional value of what we eat. Above all - it’s great fun - and there is great satisfaction to be had from eating the food that you grow yourself and giving away any surplus to friends and neighbours!”

Northstowe community orchard

The community garden has a mini orchard and 10 community raised gardening beds which can be used by anyone, not just community groups, free of charge. Four of the raised beds have already been built – two funded by Northstowe Foodies – and the other six were built in the community action day on Saturday 4 February.

The NHA can guide gardeners by suggesting what should be grown in each bed, to help with crop rotation.

David Evans, Chair of Northstowe Horticultural Association, said: “We are all very excited to be working with so many local residents on the Community Garden. This space will be transformed into a garden and orchard for the enjoyment of the community. We are so pleased that so many people came along to help out, and hope that as the garden and orchard mature, they will be used more and more."

Northstowe Horticultural Association were successful in securing grant funding from the District Council’s Zero Carbon Communities grant scheme which encourages communities in South Cambridgeshire to take action on climate change at a very local level. The annual grant scheme will open for a further round of applications later this year. So far, it has distributed over £400,000 to 62 community projects. This will be its 5th year running.

Cllr Natalie Warren Green, a ward member for Northstowe, said: “I really enjoyed being part of this event. Boots on, and garden fork in action, I worked alongside residents from age two upwards, County Councillor Firouz Thompson, Cllr Bill Handley, The Northstowe Community Team, and the high energy Northstowe Horticultural Association, to dig through the sticky mud, remove weeds, and create planting areas, to plant shrubs and trees. This Community Garden is set to be a place for people of all ages to really enjoy developing raised bed gardens alongside the allotments. The highlight of my morning was the smiling face of a six-year-old boy who said ‘Digging is so cool! I love today!’

Cllr Tom Bygott, a ward member for Northstowe, said: “This is an excellent project offering the opportunity to connect with nature, which is particularly important in a new community like Northstowe. The health aspect of gardening is well documented, and is a social pastime, providing many opportunities for new residents to get to know one another. The launch of this project is a great step forward for Northstowe.”