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Lockdown Allotment feeds the community and helps minds stay active at Harrogate Neighbours

Published: 19th August 2020

An allotment which was created at the start of lockdown in the gardens at The Cuttings, Harrogate Neighbours’ extra care home has produced an array fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs which are now being used in the meals on wheels delivered by the Harrogate & Ripon Food Angels to the older community and in the restaurant kitchen.

Margaret Mitchell, 85 a tenant at The Cuttings has spent most of her day since the start of lockdown in the allotment, alongside other tenants and staff at the scheme. The allotment has produced a range of fresh produce, including cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, soft fruits and a variety of different herbs.

In addition to the hands-on planting and care of the produce, tenants who are unable to garden outdoors were also able to watch the food grow from inside which has been proven to help minds stay active and promote positive mental health, a challenge being faced by many care settings across the UK as a result of lockdown regulations.

Margaret, said “I’ve always enjoyed gardening so it has been a pleasure to help and watch the fruit and vegetables grow. Being in lockdown has had its downsides but having the opportunity to be outdoors and grow our own produce was been wonderful. I am looking forward to trying to fruits of our labour.”

The gardening projects at The Cuttings have been supported by volunteer gardener Gloria Lorenzo, and member of staff Olivia Jackson who have been busy with pots of plants, the growing of sweet peas and other flowers.

Sue Cawthray, CEO at Harrogate Neighbours, said, “There are many challenges of lockdown for those who are vulnerable, or shielding, so the allotment was started to encourage tenants to spend more time outdoors. There is lots of evidence to suggest that nature, being outdoors and watching things grow has a significant positive impact on mental health, something we place a lot of emphasis on, especially during lockdown. We’re fortunate to have a dedicated space in the garden of The Cuttings where tenants have enjoyed planting and watching fresh produce grow.

“Now we are at a stage where the produce can be used in the food we prepare and deliver to the wider community there is a real ‘feel good’ vibe in the home which all helps towards positive mental health. A few weeks ago, as the organisations beekeeper I took the honeycomb out of the hives and demonstrated to a group of tenants how you remove the honey from the comb and put into jars. It was a most enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine and everyone got a chance to taste our very own Harrogate Neighbours honey!”

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