A CELEBRATION was the icing on the cake for the North East’s community gardening boom – in a special information launch held yesterday.
At the Ouseburn Farm in Newcastle, a new map was launched that details community gardens, allotments, orchards and urban farms across the region.
To mark the event, a cake in the shape of the map was cut and handed out.
The map, funded by the Sir James Knott Trust and the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Programme, has been published by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG), a charity which supports people to set up and run projects to grow their own food and have access to the natural world.
“Interest in creating gardening and food growing spaces has boomed in recent years, due to the popularity of issues such as food miles, climate change and healthy eating,” said Federation North of England development coordinator Mick Marston.
“It also enables people to meet others in their local community and to enjoy the outdoors. It takes pressure off people.”
The map will act as a guide to projects in the region which welcome visitors, from farm sites to small growing plots.
In addition to community-managed farms and gardens open to visitors and volunteers, the map also highlights groups such as community orchards, school growing projects and community-managed allotment gardens.
The map also lists 13 North East Millennium Greens and 28 Doorstep Greens.
At the event representatives of the Ouseburn Farm; Spyral allotments in Murton, County Durham; Hexham Community Garden; The Hop Garden in High Spen, Gateshead; Scotswood Community Garden in Newcastle; and The Good Life community garden at Longbenton in North Tyneside outlined how their projects started and developed.
“We know that these groups are just part of the picture, as there are many new groups being set up who aren’t able to accept visitors at the moment,” said Mr Marston.
“The map will help raise the profile of these grass roots community groups across the region, because all of them do such important work, from educating people about food and the natural world through to providing volunteering and work training opportunities.
“Not only will this map be useful for people wanting to visit these type of projects or get involved with activities, events, training and volunteering opportunities, but it also enables people thinking of setting up a group to get in contact with someone in their region who has already done it.”
Thousands of copies of the map will be distributed across the region to FCFCG member groups, plus local authorities, schools, libraries and tourist information centres. The map will also be available to download via www.farmgarden.org.uk/north