Date issued: 8 June 2020
Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council, in partnership with Abberton Rural Training are giving away 350 free planting starter kits containing everything you need to start growing small food items at home.
Councillor Mike Lilley, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, said: “I’m really pleased to be launching this initiative in Colchester. Gardening, and getting back to nature, is good for our health and wellbeing and encourages healthy lifestyle behaviours, such as healthy cooking. This is something everyone can get involved with, whether this be in their garden, balcony or windowsill.”
Colchester residents can order a free starter pack by visiting www.colchester.gov.uk/growyourown and Tendring residents can order their pack at http://abbertonruraltraining.org/tendringgyo.html
Lynda McWilliams, Tendring District Council Portfolio Holder for Partnerships is encouraging everyone to get behind this project. “Thank you to all the groups who worked together to get this project off the ground, especially CVST, whose support has been outstanding,” Cllr McWilliams said.
“Anyone can grow their own, the satisfaction and rewarding feeling you get from growing your own is unlike anything else, and of course the produce tastes much better too!”
This is the third Stay At Home, Grow Your Own project to be launched in Essex. All of them are working in partnership with ART, an educational charity providing practical and skills training with a focus on rural skills including countryside and environment, horticulture, woodlands and land management.
Jacqui Stone the CEO of ART said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for people who are staying at home to get out in the fresh air, be active and learn about growing their own healthy fruit and vegetables.
“Everyone participating will earn 3 credits towards a land-based skills qualification (a quarter of a first award) and can lead on to further learning. The online videos are free to access and can be enjoyed by everyone. We would also encourage those who are not in education, employment or training to visit our website to find out more about the free courses we are running both online and on site when it is safe to do so. It has been wonderful to see the pilot group helping each other, being so enthusiastic and supportive as a group, and helping them deal with isolation.
“We are aiming to deliver around 50 packs per week, and this will be on a first come first served basis so we would ask successful applicants to be patient in receiving their packs once they have applied as we are working with volunteers for deliveries. Happy planting!”
The starter packs will be delivered by the V-Team, a team of volunteers from the Student Union at the University of Essex.
Tomas Kasiulis, Volunteering Manager at the University of Essex Students’ Union said: “We are really pleased on being invited to be a part of this amazing initiative. During an unprecedented times, local communities, organisations and authorities come together to support residents and the University of Essex is not an exception. Our students are driven by Essex Spirit that holds community as a core value. Our students and staff do not shy away responsibility and take everything in their power to make community stronger. As a result, we are proud of having so many volunteers who came forward to help in delivering this project. It is not only about growing your own little garden, it is about building connection, increasing wellbeing, and building links between residents, students, local authorities and organizations.”
Residents can start preparing for their packs to arrive by watching Abberton Rural Training YouTube channel for tips and advice. There are also free resources available for those that want to start growing their own without the packs, using seeds from food such as tomatoes and peppers, and using food packaging to propagate the seeds. To get involved visit the easy to follow online tutorials on ART’s YouTube channel and its website to access information and activity sheets.
If you are growing your own, you can join Abberton Rural Training online community www.Facebook/abbertonruraltraining to help spread the word about how much better you are feeling for getting involved in growing your own.
Don’t forget to tag @YourColchester in on Twitter, @EnjoyColchester on Facebook and @BetterColchester on Instagram, using #stayathomegrowyourown and #livewell to encourage others to grow their own too!
The Stay At Home, Grow Your Own initiative supports the Council’s commitment to Livewell, promoting healthy messages and supporting residents to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.