New allotment plot gives older people the chance to grow together
- Credit: Nick Butcher
After months of fundraising and dedication from volunteers, a project to give older people the chance to grow their own fruit and vegetables has got off the ground in Beccles.
Beccles Allotments and Gardens Association have been working in partnership with Beccles University of the Third Age (U3A) on the Growing Together project since March.
And now 10 new raised beds are sprouting produce at the Common Lane site, ready for older people and those with reduced mobility to get to work on their patches.
Joan Cupples, secretary of Beccles Allotments and Gardens Association, organised the funding and secured the plot with the council.
She said: “With them being raised people can sit on the side or bring a chair to do their weeding, especially as you get older and have a little arthritis.
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“It worked out people had done 102 hours of unpaid work to get everything ready, these women were barrowing 10 tonnes of soil and did it all voluntarily because at the end of the day people are good.
“Older people are very isolated and someone has described the allotment as a life line.”
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The U3A brings retired and semi-retired people together for life-changing opportunities and Growing Together offers land and skills to help community growing groups become financially independent in their project.
John Allport, 78, and his wife Sally, 80, from Beccles, who have each taken on a bed, said: “The basic thing is that it has brought together people in friendship.
“As you get older you can’t manage a huge garden and I’ve never had an allotment before, it’s just fantastic for me.”
Adnams charity bought the shed for the new plot and donations poured in from Beccles Fenland Charity Trust, Beccles Townland Trust, Beccles Helping Hands and Bernard Matthews Trust.
Thanks also go to local firms New Atlantic Country Superstore of Earsham, Sovereign Turf of Woodbridge, the A Shop in Beccles who made the work bench, and B&B Skips.
Mrs Cupples added: “We couldn’t have done it all without the local companies being so generous, donations here and there soon add up and we raised the £2,500 we required.
“And thanks are due to the magnificent volunteers from both the Allotments and Gardens Association and the U3A.
“What they have achieved is inspirational.”
Reaping the rewards of unusual plots isn’t a first for the Beccles Allotments and Gardens Association, who launched the successful Allotment 4 Kidz venture in 2013, to get school children interested in working outside and growing their own produce.