Northumbria in Bloom judges get a taste of a community garden

Galloway Gardens in Thorntree has welcomed judges from the prestigious annual Northumbria in Bloom competition.

The green-fingered initiative in the heart of Rainham Close has been offering local people opportunities to volunteer and be physically active by taking part in gardening, well-being and health-related activities.

The garden, which a resident had looked after for many years, was left unattended when she sadly passed away. After years of neglect, people wanted to carry on her legacy and bring the garden back to life for the local community to enjoy.

Turning this desire into reality required financial support, and with the help of Community Ventures, local people were able to start work on the garden through joint funding, skills and support from You’ve Got This and Middlesbrough Council.

To help secure the funding, You’ve Got This identified that the garden would be able to provide many benefits, including social interaction through community involvement and positively impact people’s mental and physical well-being.

The aim of the project was to increase the physical and mental well-being of residents. By creating a sustainable community-led garden, people would be able to experience a supportive and friendly place and empower residents to make healthier choices and positive lifestyle changes.

With additional skills and support from Thirteen, MVDA, Home Education and Middlesbrough Environment City, the 12-month project, which runs until September, is now competing for The Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) It’s Your Neighbourhood award.

With the garden in full bloom, local volunteers welcomed the judges to tour the garden and sample a home-grown menu that included delicious fresh potato soup and tomato bruschetta.

Since work started in the neglected area, fruit and nut trees have formed an attractive orchard with vegetables, including parsnips, chillies, tomatoes, potatoes and strawberry plants, which have been grown to provide food and an improved environment for the residents.

Recycled materials have been used to build planters, a seating area and a sensory garden space and compost heap habitats were designed to attract wildlife.

Volunteers also had the opportunity to learn new skills, such as growing and cooking fresh vegetables and horticulture training was provided for those interested.

James Hartley, Programme Officer for You’ve Got This said:

“Galloway Gardens has brought the community together, connected them with nature and had a positive impact on their mental health and physical activity.

“Gardening is an excellent form of exercise, and the project has brought many benefits to those involved and the local community.

“To see them lift a trophy for all their hard work and commitment would be the icing on the cake.”

The awards will be announced at a presentation event in September.

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