High-rises make way for allotments

Knowsley Housing Trust and social enterprise Arena Future have built community allotments on the site of demolished housing blocks on Princess Drive in Huyton, Merseyside.

The plots will be used to teach residents and schoolchildren how to grow vegetables. Cookery courses are also planned to ensure people make the most of their homegrown produce.

"We already have a waiting list for the allotments, which shows people are hungry to improve their diet," said Dave Webster, of Knowsley Housing Trust.

"We are committed to helping people improve their health and wellbeing and growing your own food is a fantastic way of doing that while also helping to reduce your shopping bill.

"We have been so impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the local community in this project."

Resients were rehoused in new accommodation before the towers were demolished. KHT owns the land and wanted to use the space to benefit the local community. The allotments have taken seven months to create and include 24 raised plots, two large beds that have been taken on by local schools, a shared poly-tunnel, relaxation area and learning area. All of the plots have already been allocated and several more residents are on the waiting list.

The project has been managed by Arena Future, a training and employment social enterprise based in St Helens. Local people were employed on the project through the Future Jobs Fund during its construction.

Andy Naylor, sustainable communities officer for Arena Future, is overseeing the allotment project and will be providing support, advice and training. He said: "The allotment project will support people to grow their own food while at the same time encouraging them to take an interest in open spaces within their local area.

"We are trying to bring the community together. We want people to be out here using the allotments all the time, we want schoolchildren to be growing their own food and cooking it in their school canteens."

The project will run for three years and then it is hoped residents will take over its running. The allotments are open to anyone in the North Huyton area and are allocated for 12 months at a time, so that as many residents as possible get a chance to learn the necessary gardening skills.

  • Residents can plant a tree at the allotments between 10am and 3pm on Saturday, November 27, and from Monday, November 29 to Friday, December 3. Equipment and tools to plant the trees will be provided. National Tree Week, organised by The Tree Council, runs from November 27 to December 5, and encourages communities to take part in tree planting activities. Call Andy on 07739 090 533 to find out more.

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