The Mile Cross Intergenerational Gardening Project originated from a discussion Master Gardener Steve Mosley had with a project worker from AgeUK and a Library Outreach Officer at an event at Steve’s local library. The library at Mile Cross had a largish area at the back of their building which they wanted to make better use of in a community project and AgeUK were looking for ways of getting older people and children working together for mutual benefit. Approaches were made to local schools and older residents in the area. Catton Grove Primary School were looking to involve years 4 and 5 (9 and 10yrs old) in a community based project and growing produce fitted in well with the School’s plans. So the project established. The aim is to encourage contact and communication between old and young members of the community for their mutual benefit by gathering together on a regular basis to grow some produce and create a garden for use by the local community. As well as learning about growing food in a sustainable manner and other gardening matters, it was envisaged that the project would help older people enhance their social contact and sense of purpose, and provide children with mentoring and adult role models.
The project started in March 2012 with a presentation by Steve Mosley to pupils and staff at Catton Grove School. Children volunteered to take part in the project and were organised into groups with each group spending one and a half hours each Friday over six weeks working with Steve and the older volunteers. The children are accompanied at the gardening sessions by a teacher and a school volunteer who also walk with the children from the school. The project started with only a donation of some tools from AgeUK and seeds and plants etc. from volunteers. Since then the project has created some beds for growing vegetables and cultivated existing beds with wildlife friendly plants. Strawberries, lettuce, broad beans, radishes and courgettes have been harvested so far and an early evaluation conducted by AgeUK has shown much positive feedback from the participants. The Library is also very pleased as it has transformed a boring patch grass into something much more interesting.
The challenge for the project now is to raise enough funding to get a storage shed on site and to properly edge the veg beds etc. These are needed if enthusiasm is to be maintained.
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