Young people from across Bolton have turned a large piece of waste land into a fully working allotment, and have just had their first harvest.
The young people plan to share the fruits of their labour, which includes potatoes, carrots, onions, broad beans, raspberries and strawberries, with various local hostels, homeless drop-in centres and nurseries.
The allotment project began in March 2008, and since the start of the programme, more than 40 young people have spent more than 400 hours on the site.
During that time, they have cleared weeds, plants, trees and bushes, ploughed the land and planted crops. Between them, they have also set over 250 flags, and built a number of sheds to store their equipment.
The young people have also raised several beds in the allotment. This enables them to be accessed by people with diverse needs, such as wheelchair users.
The scheme is run by the Together Project, a partnership between young people’s substance misuse service, 360º; RAP, a service working to prevent youth offending and enable young people to make a fresh start; and the borough’s Reparation Team, who organise community payback schemes for young people.
Bolton Shared Care is a service in place to support disabled young people with their needs and help them to take part in new, interesting activities. They have recently teamed up with the Together Project and will be helping to maintain the allotment in the future.
Councillor Ebrahim Adia, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Children Services, said: “The project is an excellent opportunity for vulnerable young people who are looking for a fresh start, enabling them to take part in something different and interact with others.
“The allotment also promotes healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, and it is making a fantastic contribution to the local community.”
Ben Farrant, a young person who has worked on the allotment, added: “I was really pleased that we could give food to the young persons’ hostel as I’ve had to stay there on many occasions and I know how helpful it is.
“I’ve learnt a lot of things whilst volunteering on the allotment such as the benefit of hard work and how important it is to eat and live healthy. And it’s helped me to get an apprenticeship working at Radcliffe borough football club.”
The project has received £10,000 funding from recycling and resource management company, SITA, and £1,000 from O2.