Gardeners celebrate hitting the jackpotBy Linda Fort
July 12, 2011
Southcote gardeners are jubilant after winning a £52,000 lottery grant to create a community garden to grow fruit and veg.
The money comes from the Jubilee People’s Millions and was won by Food4Families for its site in Florian Gardens.
Now Food4Families can help people living in the area to turn a derelict piece of land into a big garden, run by and for Southcote people – many of whom live in flats without gardens.
The Reading GrowAllot project went up against five others in a regional vote on TV last week and although the Southcote Garden didn’t come first, as runner-up the growers still got their cash.
Food4Families coordinator Sharon Fitton said: “We are overjoyed at this news and immensely grateful to the people of Reading who voted for our project and the fantastic support we had in building awareness.
“Without the organisations like Reading Voluntary Action and Reading Borough Council we would not have got our message to vote across to the public.”
She went on: “Work will begin on creating the allotment garden straight away and by this time next year the vision we have offered people will be realised.
“Instead of a derelict dumping ground, the site will have been cleared, the garden built and residents will be harvesting their first crops of carrots, beans and potatoes – fresh, healthy, home-grown food.”
Planning meetings to enable residents to decide how they want to run the allotment garden are being set up and will be followed by design sessions to finalise the layout plans.
Food4Families, which is run from the RISC in London Street, Katesgrove, will help the gardeners set up and run the community garden.
Food4Families steering group chairman Paul Harper said: “Our aim for Reading GrowAllot is to create a series of large community-run allotment gardens like this one. We hope this paves the way for a massive increase in the amount of home-grown, local sustainable food that is produced in Reading.”
Food4Families got three years’ funding from the Big Lottery – a grant of £235,000 – and has created 17 community gardens across the borough. The 0.22 hectares of land in Southcote for the new garden is leased from the council for a peppercorn rent.