In a nutshell
Who are you?
Sonia Clyne, chair of Par Bay Big Local.
What did you do?
Initiated a Grow Box scheme to help residents grow their own vegetables.
To support local residents with learning a new skill and keeping occupied during lockdown.
What’s the benefit?
Local residents have access to fresh produce and can engage with a new project.
We have a lovely Community Garden in Par Bay Big Local which we use to grow vegetables and run a number of neighbourhood initiatives. We have a ‘pick your own’ corner where local residents can pick their own vegetables and leave a donation and also a ‘swap and share’ corner where you can exchange or donate any unwanted plants.
During lockdown, I have continued to work in the community garden for about an hour each day and a few of the other local residents have done the same at different times – we’ve made sure to enjoy the outside space while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Because of the popularity of the Community Garden, I was approached by a FAST (Family Assessment and Support Team) worker to help give a focus to a couple of at-risk teenagers who had not been following the rules of the lockdown. She suggested I give them some pea plants to grow but it to me that it would be best to give them something that would yield quick results and produce something visually impressive.
Compiling the boxes
Using free mushroom baskets from the local greengrocer I put together some Grow Boxes with what we had to hand: a small bag of compost, a pot of sprouted climbing French beans, an envelope containing an instruction sheet, little packs with a few seeds in and a few pots and plant labels. Each box was accompanied by 10 bamboo canes to help the plants grow upwards.
Keeping motivation levels up
Part of the joy of gardening is filling the pots, planting seeds and watching those tiny shoots appear and grow so I thought the teenagers would really enjoy this. I have asked them to take photos of their progress and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve got on.
Growing the project
Following this, I have offered similar Grow Boxes to local families with children. They’ve gone down really well and there may well be an online competition to see who can grow the tallest sunflower or the longest runner bean.
Alongside supporting the local community to grow their own plants and share the results, being in the community garden has given me the chance to chat with local residents as they pass by during their daily exercise sessions – it’s great to get to see so many people and maintain a sense of community despite the current circumstances.