Allotment Committee chairman, Cllr Jonathan Nixon, explained: “We were uncertain about letting essentially a triple plot to one organisation, as we have a lengthy waiting list, but then we thought that a community allotment could act as a crucible of horticultural skills, enabling people to try vegetable and fruit growing while they are on the waiting list.”
The new allotment was in a neglected state before the Community Restart and Open Door team began work, but the volunteers have been working every Friday over the last few months and, steadily, a transformation has been wrought. The sizable plot is now known as the Open Gate Community Garden.
Cllr Sarah Cockburn-Price, chairman of Colne Town Council, said: “Chatting to the team led by Elaine Butt, from Community Restart, it is clear there is real ambition and vision. The team is making raised beds for vegetables and salad crops and the idea is that the produce will be used by Open Door’s cafe.”
At the moment, the prNick Alderson, rural development officer said: “We are really grateful to the people who are helping us, such as Colne Town Council, who not only leased us the plot, but have also just confirmed a £500 grant. In addition, local businesses have been rallying round, with Robinson Polytunnels of Barrowford providing a discounted Polytunnel, plus day’s training in how to erect it, Lanlee of Primet who have given timber, North Valley Forge which has donated gloves and masks, Textstyles of Primet which has given the site’s sign, Acorn Tree Surgeons, who have donated 70 tonnes of wood chippings and Accrington and Rossendale College which will work with those volunteers who want to work on worthwhile horticultural qualifications.”
The Open Gate Community Garden still has much opportunity for Colners to get involved. There is a small group which has already got stuck into jobs as diverse as digging, landscaping and preparing the raised beds, but another two dozen are waiting for milder weather.
“The interest and backing this project has had at a local level is fantastic”, said Nick. “On 20th May we will be holding the official Opening Day to co-incide with World Mental Health week, showcasing the benefits that Eco-therapy and the Great Outdoors have for everyone. We hope that over time, The Open Gate Community Garden project will be where local people can learn, develop and enjoy gardening, enhancing their psychological and physical wellbeing, while increasing self-esteem and confidence.”