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Growing Wild is a Communinity Allotment project based in Baxenden, near Accrington.
Growing Wild was created by Kate Mason, a mother of three from Baxenden, who had a vision to create a space for families and people to use. She has worked hard behind the scenes to cut through all the red tape to bring her vision to life. A number of other volunteers help look after all administration.The group has a committee who ensure the smooth running of the project.
The project has as it’s mission statement, ‘To get the local community outdoors and connected with nature and each other. Offer allotment keeping and food growing, wild food collecting for all ages. Provide an environmental education and a community wildlife site that can be enjoyed by everyone.’
In September 2015 the East Ribble District, through District Charity Steward, Mike Stubbs, successfully applied for an ELMC grant of £2,966.80 to purchase a Poly-tunnel. The aim was to allow the community to continue food growing throughout the year.
Kate Mason told us:
A Poly tunnel is inanimate but brings life, growth and bigger dreams to GrOwING WILD community allotment.
The arrival of the Poly tunnel on the allotment plot has changed our ambitions and possibilities. GrOwING WILD families and people with learning disabilities, supported by managers from Alternative Futures Group have shared the space to grow food since Spring 2016. The Poly tunnel has been utilised as a shelter and space before the growing season began as there is little shelter for groups onsite when the weather is cold, rainy and windy.
The Poly tunnel has allowed us to grow on seedlings to plant outside, extend our growing season and the range on vegetables. This year we have been able to grow tomatoes and chilli’s for the first time.
We have been able to grow more small plants that Alternative Futures have taken to raise funds by selling to colleagues in their offices and at events. These funds have enabled more raised beds to be created on the allotment for more food growing. A further success from the wider interest created at Alternative Futures from the plant sales is that more managers want to get involved. ALternative Futures now plan to bring more groups down on a weekly basis ( currently they visit on Thursdays).
The benefits of the Poly tunnel growing have raised the ambitions of GrOwING WILD and Alternative Futures to look for funding for another Poly tunnel, grow more and give away some surplus food and sell some to support the costs such as rent and insurance.
GrOWING WILD is beginning to develop a Wildflower / Hey Meadow in order to restore the biodiversity of an overgrazed half acre of the allotment. The Poly tunnel has allowed us to grow additional native species to put back into the area. This work will continue in the New Year of 2017 with more transplanting in the Spring.
The highlights of the Poly tunnel this first year of growing have been finding what has grown (for the children and families) and of course, being able to pick a pea pod early!
For Alternative Futures, growing enormous vegetables and giving them names!
The strangest use of the Poly tunnel so far must be it’s use as a pop up art gallery for a fundraising birthday celebration !
On behalf of all the children, families and other groups that have enjoyed and benefitted from the generosity of the Freemasons providing us with the poly tunnel, I thank you and hope we can continue to engage and work together.
Chairperson for GrOwING WILD