Community-based initiative brings the Good Life to Chapelfield

05 July 2014

Chapelfield Grow Your Own, a scheme established by Stand United Reformed Church with support from local businesses and the local community, has been presented with a prestigious national Community Project Award.

The project, launched in April 2013, uses church land, local residents' gardens and other unused spaces provided by local housing association, Six Counties Housing, to grow organic fruit and vegetables. The produce is then given to people who live locally.

The project has instilled a strong sense of community pride, with many residents getting involved in growing plants and fresh produce as well as looking after their local area. There are 20 plus members actively involved in planting and harvesting produce, including a number of people who are new to gardening and have quickly acquired new skills.

During the winter months, weekly gardening talks provide additional information and encourage residents to spend time together. The recent opening of the project's polytunnel - an outdoor, polythene-covered frame under which plants are grown - has also attracted widespread interest, inspiring those new to the area to get involved in both the project and their local community. On 5 July, Chapelfield Grow Your Own committee members - Barbara Law, Gareth Ogden and Liz Adkinson - attended the United Reformed Church General Assembly in Cardiff to receive the award and £2,000 prize money on behalf of the project.

Barbara Law, head of planting for the initiative, said: "We're delighted to have won this award and will be using the prize money to develop the project further, and get more members of our community involved. The award will sustain what we're doing for a good three to four years without us having to seek any further funding for the little things we want to do; things like: Odd bits of tools, attracting new members and getting them interested with some educational materials, and being able to let other people know how we've managed to get it to work for us, and how it could possibly work for them as well, so that it fits what they need. It really will help us enormously to get the word out to everyone else."

Margaret Slater, marketing manager for Congregational & General Insurance plc - sponsors of the Community Project Awards, said "Chapelfield Grow Your Own is such a worthwhile award winner and we're delighted to award this prize to them."

"The project has brought different elements of the community together with a common goal and a shared interest in improving the environment. Not only does it provide free food to its residents it is making a very positive impact on its community, and I am confident it will continue to evolve."