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Published 18th Feb 2011

Growing on an allotment

Eat healthily, get in shape and save money into the bargain – sound too good to be true?

Not if you sign up as a member of Easterside’s new ‘green gym’ – otherwise known as the estate’s new community allotment and gardening club.

Local residents are queuing up to get active in 2011 by spending time enjoying the fresh air and growing their own healthy produce.

The Easterside Community Allotment, behind Bexley Close, has been providing vegetables and fruit to the local Cyber Café and community centre for some time.

But the New Year brought an opportunity to expand the site and a chance for more local people to get involved. Several families and community groups have already taken ‘starter plots’ and are hard at work preparing for their first produce.

Catherine Boyle, from Middlesbrough Environment City who are managing the site, said: “New Year is a great time to start moving towards a healthier lifestyle and gardening is a fantastic free way of getting fit.

“Digging, planting and maintaining a garden not only improve physical health, but spending time outdoors, especially with friends from the community, has massive benefits for emotional and mental health too. And it’s great fun sharing a hard-earned cup of tea and a natter!

“We’ll also be providing training and guidance so that people can grow their own at home, making their household budget stretch further.”

Councillor Brenda Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Public Health and Sport, said: “Urban farming has proved hugely popular in Middlesbrough and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response.

“These are tough times, with everyone’s finances stretched to the limit, so the community allotment is the ideal solution.

“People can grow their own organic vegetables and fruit fresh fruit, saving themselves money and keep in shape at the same time.”

The Community Allotment Gardening Club is just one of the initiatives of the Eco-Easterside project – with support from the Working Neighbourhoods Fund and Mind - which will see a number of measures introduced to the estate to cut carbon emissions and improve the environmental sustainability of the area for the future.

The club is supported by a Middlesbrough Working Neighbourhood Fund grant and is run in partnership with Middlesbrough Council and Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind’s EcoMinds initiative, the Out and About project.

The ‘green gym’ gardening club meets on Wednesday mornings between 10am and noon, and on Thursday afternoons from 1pm to 3pm. No pre-booking is required – just turn up to take part.

A family open afternoon will also be held at the site on Friday, February 25 from 1pm to 3pm.

  • For further information, contact Catherine Boyle on 01642 811300.

About Eco-Easterside

Easterside is leading the way on reducing carbon emissions, thanks to almost £400,000 of funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The project, led by Middlesbrough Council in partnership with Middlesbrough Environment City and Easterside community groups, will raise awareness among residents to reduce carbon emissions from domestic housing and public buildings, encourage the use of active and sustainable transport, and develop sustainable, healthy living by encouraging and helping residents to grow their own food.

Key aims include:

  • Local schools achieving Green Flag Eco-School standard
  • Installing two wind turbines in schools on the estate
  • Community buildings equipped with renewable technology
  • Two streets fitted with low energy LED lighting
  • 600 domestic properties fitted with energy monitors to help residents save money
  • Starting an electric car club
  • Supporting local food growing schemes

Useful links

Middlesbrough Environment City

Middlesbrough Allotments

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