School join allotment plan to nurture family

A Lewisham school joins an allotment project to promote healthier families Trust Photos London Action Trus

A Lewisham school joins an allotment project to promote healthier families Photo: London Action Trust

A London charity will work with a primary school in Lewisham to use vegetable patches to promote family values.

Forster Park Primary School in Downham signed an agreement on Tuesday to take part an allotment project run by London Action Trust, which aims to identify disadvantaged families, including refugee groups, single parents, ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed, and get them working on a plot of land to produce vegetables for home consumption.

Sophie Wellings, who works at the trust, said: “The main aim is to improve family relationships, nutrition, and the knowledge of where food comes from while working with the community.”

Selected families receive training and advice on soil types, pest control, what to grow and when to plant. They meet mentors and volunteers employed by the charity once a week. Funding also covers the cost of tools and sheds.

The project will involve six to eight families.

Graeme Slate, learning mentor for Forster Park, said the parents would work in two community gardens across the road from the school. The gardens were not maintained before because nearby community centres hadn’t had the funding or capacity for their upkeep.

“So the project will benefit both the families who live in the community and the centres who are offering space,” he said.

The aim was for the families to open their gardens to the public on special open days and to produce a grow-and-cook cookbook.

“This allows the whole community to share in their success,” Slate said.

London Action Trust has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund to run allotment programmes for three years starting in 2008. They currently have allotments for disadvantaged families in Sutton, Barnet and Enfield.

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