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Hft legacy gifts transform allotment for people with learning disabilities

A group of adults with learning disabilities from Cornwall has been reaping the rewards of a charity grant and are now growing, cooking and eating food grown in their very own allotment.  

The keen gardeners are supported by national charity Hft at its supported living service in St Austell, where they have been maximising the use of their on-site green space over the last four months. The service was awarded a £3,000 grant by the charity, allowing it to establish an allotment in some unused garden space in 2019. Complete with raised beds, homemade planters and a greenhouse, the project has benefited the people with a stimulating and rewarding activity during the pandemic. 

Rebecca, who uses the allotment, said: “I like the fact we can grow vegetables; I like the tomatoes and strawberries the best. It’s really good and makes me feel happy, I can go and spend time on my own over there and relax.”

Over the last few months, people supported at the service have embraced the chance to grow their own produce and learn new skills. Staff have empowered people to take a leading role from start to finish, with their responsibilities ranging from choosing seeds to plant, watering and pruning, to creating a scarecrow to keep the birds away. The team’s hard work has already paid off, with recent crops of courgettes, strawberries, cabbages and carrots going down a storm at dinnertime, and pumpkins well on the way in time for Halloween.

Funds for the project came from Hft’s very own Funds for the Future scheme, which uses donations left to the charity through gifts in Wills. Staff are encouraged to apply for the grants, which they can use to fund creative and innovative projects that make a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Paris Milton, Registered Cluster Manager in Bradbury, said: “This project really has been proof that great things can grow from tiny seeds. While the last few months have been tough, people have been given a sense of purpose by having the chance to spend time outside every day tending to their plants. There have been so many brilliant outcomes during this project, spanning from people researching new recipes that use their homegrown food, to others expanding their palettes by trying out new fruits and vegetables. The project has also helped us all become more socially and environmentally aware. We have been focusing on educating people about the environment and ensuring we are doing our bit to be sustainable. Being able to grow our own food has really helped to get this point across. 

“As lockdown eases, we’ll be continuing the work we have started and plan to enjoy this wonderful space for many months to come. We’re so grateful to the generous people who have left gifts to Hft in their Wills who have made this all possible.” 

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