Volunteers growing crops in disused land to help feed poor
VOLUNTEERS are turning disused plots of land into a source of fresh food for the needy.
Urban gardening project, Status Grow, uses 'borrowed land' to grow crops to support residents classed as being in 'food poverty' in North Staffordshire.
They are now launching an appeal for volunteers to help the project.
Jayne Fair, aged 48, from Slaney Street, Newcastle, said: "There's potential to really develop communities with this project.
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"We'd ask anyone who wants to run a plot on one of our allotments to donate a small percentage of their produce to the project by way of payment.
"That way, we can donate a couple of potatoes or carrots to people who are struggling to afford food."
Status Grow built its first allotment in Silverdale on disused land donated by the Cornerstone Project in June.
They plan to start work on other sites next year.
Jayne said the project had got off to a successful start.
She said: "We've actually had more offers for plots than we know what to do with. The focus for us now is to get more volunteers involved so we can start to open more plots around Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle."
Jayne got involved in the project after working with food banks in the city.
She said: "Food banks provide a three-day supply of nutritionally balanced dried and tinned food for people in crisis.
"But this can't carry on indefinitely and is a short-term fix to help people get back on their feet.
"At Status Grow we ask for donations of unused land that we can redevelop and hopefully provide a fresh food source."
Status Grow has received funding from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle Borough Council and the Robbie Williams' Give It Sum campaign.
Jayne said: "We have been lucky enough to receive some fantastic support and resources from various organisations.
"We received £1,000 from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, £1,000 from Give It Sum, and £250 from Newcastle Borough Council."
The group is now planning to develop similar plots in Hanley and Knutton.
Chairman Alan Barrett, aged 59, from Campbell Road, Stoke, was invited to join the project by Jayne as he had experience of running allotments.
He said: "Times are hard for everyone at the moment. We want to see more communities pulling together and working to look after each other on projects like this.
"Allotments are a great place for people to do something physical and practical while getting to know their neighbours."
Alan said the new allotments were more accessible to children and the elderly.
He added: "We're hoping to secure disabled access in the long run too."
Newcastle Borough Councillor, Stephen Sweeney, who has worked closely with the group, said: "It's an excellent scheme to get local people involved in growing their own fresh produce."
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