Great Britain

Allotment owner's fresh idea to help others through tough times

ALLOTMENT owners are being urged to support the borough's most vulnerable residents by donating their spare produce this harvest time.

Acting upon the suggestion in a letter from one allotment holder, a plan has been hatched to make sure none of their fruit and vegetable harvest goes to waste, by providing the freshest local ingredients to help those struggling to get food because of self-isolation or financial difficulty.

The grower, who wished to remain anonymous, asked the council if there was a way for growers in the same position to donate spare produce to the Wirral's Emergency Food Hub, who could then pass it on to local people who are receiving food help.

His suggestion has been welcomed by the food hub, which has agreed to distribute excess fresh food to people in need.

Growers will be asked to coordinate their donations so combined collections or deliveries can be arranged from any of the 40 council-run allotment sites in Wirral.

Details of how to donate will be displayed on allotment notice boards and are available from site secretaries.

The allotment holder's letter read: "After months of preparation and hard work, harvesting fruit and vegetables is always one of the nicest jobs on the allotment.

"But as crops are usually ready for picking all at the same time, there is often too much to get through, so I have always been happy to give the surplus away to friends and neighbours.

"This year, because of the lockdown, I don't expect to see as many people as usual and I couldn't bear the idea of any of it going to waste.

"I was also conscious that lots of people currently need a bit of help to get the food they need."

Wirral's cabinet member for community services, councillor Julie McManus, said: "There are lots of benefits from having an allotment, including regular exercise in the fresh air and friendship with other plot holders.

"The satisfaction of knowing it helps some of the most vulnerable people in our community get through these very difficult times can now be added to that list."

Although access to Wirral's allotments has remained open through the health emergency, growers are reminded to protect themselves and others by following the public health advice, available on the National Allotment Society's website: www.nsalg.org.uk/news/covid19-information.

Conservative councillor Tom Anderson, chair of the council's environment committee, added: "The Covid-19 pandemic has again demonstrated the importance of having locally produced food available.

"Sadly, there are more than 1,500 people on the waiting list for an allotment in Wirral.

"I'm hoping the Environment Committee will work with the Allotments Society to come up with a plan to help more people to 'grow their own' in the years ahead."

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