Bloomin’ Lovely

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In just a few short years the allotments in Port Clarence have been transformed from a huge waste ground, target of many fly tippers, into a Horticultural Centre of Excellence, with classrooms, growing tunnels, raised bed community growing areas, a community orchard, a Faith Garden and now just completed the Labyrinth which we hope will become an area for outdoor performances in the near future.

The vision of the labyrinth was to create an area where on fine days and light evenings, outdoor events could take place; there is already interest from a drumming club to would like to teach music and rhythm to young people.

Kevin Pitt Strategic Manager at Billingham Environmental Links Projects wanted to thank Ummar Hanif from Thirteen Group for all the help provided by his personnel in building the labyrinth, B&Q for providing all the bricks at cost, making it economically viable to complete the project far sooner than anticipated and, a host of local businesses who have helped lift and shift equipment into place so that the extra classroom could be added along with the Faith Cabin including Scott Bros, GrowHow and Wilton Group.

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Kevin said ‘The culmination of all you see here in Port Clarence is the result of a community prepared to work together to make a difference. A whole host of groups and associations have been inspired to work alongside BELP and Clarences Leisure and Garden Association, helping to change this whole area for the better. The raised bed growing scheme has encouraged many people who have never previously tried growing their own produce, to give

it a go! The success we have seen has attracted individuals and groups to continue working together, talking together, growing produce that we already know will provide a bountiful harvest. We have a series of raised beds which we believe this year will number nearly 200 by autumn, where Billingham Churches Together are busy growing, this group is coordinated by Rev Janet Capstick. We also have the Clarences Families Group led by Jayne Hector, who meet each Monday to plant, weed, water and feed their raised beds. The Royal British Legion are also busy growing and will be hosting a meeting in June at the horticultural centre, using the polytunnel classrooms, where they will consider how to encourage more over 60’s to become involved, make new friends and give growing a go.’ In the last year with the help and support of the

Probation Service (latterly ARC), Groundwork North East with the HEAL project, there has been an upsurge of activity that has seen great advances made meaning that more raised bed are currently available if you and your family, or group or association, want to get growing – based on the photo’s here – you could be fine dining soon, knowing that you grew all the produce yourself!

If you are interested in taking one of our raised beds, please call 01642 564077 or pop down to the allotments as there is generally someone there most days. (the allotments are just behind the play area in Port Clarence you can park immediately outside the grounds).

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