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Community garden with mini orchard and raised beds created in Northstowe

A community garden featuring a mini orchard and raised gardening beds has been created in Northstowe as residents are encouraged to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

The Northstowe Horticultural Association (NHA) held a community day supported with a zero carbon communities grant of £5,800 from South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Northstowe Horticultural Association (NHA) holds a community day to build raised beds and plant trees. Picture: Keith Heppell
Northstowe Horticultural Association (NHA) holds a community day to build raised beds and plant trees. Picture: Keith Heppell

Thirty fruit trees, including plum, pear, apple, and cherry trees, were planted on February 4 and six raised beds were built, adding to four already in place - two of which were funded by Northstowe funded. These can be used by anyone .

Cllr Bill Handley said: “We are really pleased to support this initiative to encourage people to grow their own food. Gardening has a multitude of benefits; I am a keen gardener, and have an allotment, and know how helpful it was for me both mentally and physically during the pandemic.

“Allotment-holders tend to be a sociable bunch and chat while working on their plots and experienced growers will always offer help and advice to newcomers. At the Northstowe community day, it was great to see children of all ages helping out and there was a real buzz as trees were planted and the raised beds started to take shape.

“It may seem a bit of a stretch to make a connection between gardening and climate change but there is a direct relationship between how we as a nation grow and distribute our food and the carbon emissions that are a major contributor to global warming.

“Community gardening projects such as the one in Northstowe help people to find out, through experience, how their food is grown and what choices impact the nutritional value of what we eat. Above all - it’s great fun - and there is great satisfaction to be had from eating the food that you grow yourself and giving away any surplus to friends and neighbours!”

The NHA can guide gardeners by what could be grown in each raised bed, to help with crop rotation.

NHS chair David Evans said: “We are all very excited to be working with so many local residents on the community garden. This space will be transformed into a garden and orchard for the enjoyment of the community. We are so pleased that so many people came along to help out, and hope that as the garden and orchard mature, they will be used more and more."

The council’s annual zero carbon communities grant scheme encourages communities in South Cambridgeshire to take action on climate change at a very local level.

NHS celebrates the creation of a community garden in Northstowe. Picture: Keith Heppell
NHS celebrates the creation of a community garden in Northstowe. Picture: Keith Heppell

The scheme will open for a further round of applications later this year, having distributed more than £400,000 to 62 community projects so far. It is now in its fifth year.

Cllr Natalie Warren Green, a ward member for Northstowe, said: “I really enjoyed being part of this event. Boots on, and garden fork in action, I worked alongside residents from age two upwards, county councillor Firouz Thompson, Cllr Bill Handley, the Northstowe community team, and the high energy Northstowe Horticultural Association, to dig through the sticky mud, remove weeds, and create planting areas, to plant shrubs and trees.

“This community garden is set to be a place for people of all ages to really enjoy developing raised bed gardens alongside the allotments. The highlight of my morning was the smiling face of a six-year-old boy who said ‘Digging is so cool! I love today!’

Cllr Tom Bygott, a ward member for Northstowe, added: “This is an excellent project offering the opportunity to connect with nature, which is particularly important in a new community like Northstowe. The health aspect of gardening is well documented, and is a social pastime, providing many opportunities for new residents to get to know one another. The launch of this project is a great step forward for Northstowe.”

Find out more about ZCC grants, email ZCC@scambs.gov.uk.

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