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Help needed for Swaffham gardening project to change lives

The Friends of Swaffham Orchard Project new family action programme at the Tumbler Hill allotments. From left: Neil Flood, Joanna Slack, Susan Ashby, Katy Fullilove (Friends of Swaffham Orchard Project Co-ordinator) and Ian Gibson. ANL-140503-140158001

The Friends of Swaffham Orchard Project new family action programme at the Tumbler Hill allotments. From left: Neil Flood, Joanna Slack, Susan Ashby, Katy Fullilove (Friends of Swaffham Orchard Project Co-ordinator) and Ian Gibson. ANL-140503-140158001

A charity has appealed for volunteers to back their latest gardening project which will work with children and vulnerable people in Swaffham.

Officials from Family Action have secured an £83,000 Lottery grant for the project, which they say will help them to transform the Tumbler Hill allotments and the Orford Road community orchard.

Workshops will begin later this month and it is hoped the first produce from the programme will be sold on local markets later this year.

The scheme has developed from the Escape community gardening programme, which has worked with people with learning disabilities and mental health problems in the town for the last three years.

Project co-ordinator Katy Fullilove said: “The polytunnels adjacent to Escape had been under-used for some time, and the community orchard was also struggling to be maintained.

“We applied for funding to help revitalise the area. Escape and Friends of Swaffham Orchard are working closely together, sharing tools, volunteers and ideas.”

Under the proposals, the orchard will be managed and local people trained to help maintain it, while the polytunnels will be used to grow and maintain local fruit and vegetable varieties, as well as historic types which are no longer in use.

The charity has secured a two-year grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is working with the town council, the Iceni Partnership and the Swaffham Community and Leisure Gardeners’ Association.

Organisers plan to train people in skills including orchard management, pruning, food-growing, preserving, and wildlife conservation to develop the site and enable it to be maintained once the Lottery funding has been used.

The first of a series of weekly food growing workshops will be held on Friday, March 21, and they want people from all walks of life to get involved.

Miss Fullilove said: “Volunteers from all backgrounds are welcomed, and the project is focusing on engaging young people from local schools, older people, people with learning difficulties and those experiencing or recovering from mental health issues.”

The charity hopes that the first produce from the project will go on sale later this year and that volunteers will also take charge of some of the town’s floral displays.

Workshops on subjects including beekeeping, building a cob oven and conservation, plus learning days dedicated to traditional fruit varieties, local wildlife and the history and importance of local orchards are also planned.

Anyone interested in getting involved is asked to phone 01760 720302 for more details.

 

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