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Grant helps green project grow

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:31 01 August 2010

A GREEN-fingered group has been given the chance to expand its grow-your-own project, thanks to a £42,000 grant.

Now members of Greengrow are hoping to recruit more volunteers to help them expand their range of home-grown salads and vegetables to go on sale in shops in the Bungay area.

A GREEN-fingered group has been given the chance to expand its grow-your-own project, thanks to a £42,000 grant.

Now members of Greengrow are hoping to recruit more volunteers to help them expand their range of home-grown salads and vegetables to go on sale in shops in the Bungay area.

Greengrow, a local workers' co-operative which was set up 18 months ago, was awarded the grant by the Big Lottery Fund's Local Food Programme for its new community project, 'Grow Your Own!'.

Greengrow, which has been selling organic mixed salads to outlets in Bungay for the past year, wanted the cash to help give people hands-on access to local food.

Volunteer co-ordinator Becky Taylor said: “Our aim is to try to produce organic vegetable at affordable prices for local people. A lot of organic food tends to be quite expensive so it's about trying to find ways of doing it so people who are on fairly low incomes can afford it.”

Some of the money will go towards infrastructure at Greengrow's base at Ilketshall St Andrew, where it rents five acres of land.

A new 66ft polytunnel will enable the team to grow more vegetables and extend the growing season. The cash will also pay for fencing off the land to help prevent rabbit and deer damage, and will fund two days of work a week by project co-ordinators.

Greengrow's six volunteers are hoping to attract more at the event to mark the launch of the project, which will be at their site on Clarkes Lane in Ilketshall St Andrew next Saturday, April 10, at 11am-3pm. Anyone interested in getting involved is welcome to go along.

Ms Taylor said it was the ideal opportunity for anyone who wants to grow their own vegetables but does not have the skills or land, and for those who would like access to fresh produce.

Liam Crowther, the group's horticultural co-ordinator, said: “People are becoming more interested in getting their food locally, and many people want to grow their own food, but don't know where to start. Our idea is that people can come to us and help out with growing vegetables, and be able to take away the produce when it's in season. They will learn new skills, get to eat fresh organic produce, and meet new people. It's a win-win situation.”

Volunteers have so far concentrated their efforts on mixed salads, including lettuce, spinach and rocket, but hope they will be able to cultivate a better range of vegetables this year, and that by the end of the three years of funding they will be able to provide vegetable boxes offering a full range of produce.

Volunteers are rewarded for their hard work by taking home boxes of fresh vegetables that they help produce.

The Grow Your Own! project also promotes the idea of local food being better for people's health, the environment and the local economy, and of binding communities together. It is supported by a number of organisations, including Alex's Fruit and Veg and Sustainable Bungay, East Anglia Food Link, and Ringsfield Hall Educational Trust.

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