A community group has won an award for transforming an unused space into an attractive and productive garden.

The ATL Group, based in Blackhill, Consett, has turned a patch of vacant land around the Blackhill Comrades Club into a space that will benefit both people and wildlife.

The group has created herb and flower beds, planted fruit trees, built compost bins and transformed an old shipping container into a ‘funky tool shed’.

The ATL Group plans to use vegetables grown in the garden in its free community meals. The group puts these meals on every Thursday and anybody from the local community can attend them.

Consett's ALT Group Scoops Environmental Award
Consett’s ALT Group

In recognition of its valuable environmental work, the group has now received a Caring for your Environment Award from Liz Charles, chair of the Environment in your Community Group.

The Environment in your Community Group is a member of the County Durham Environment Partnership, of which Durham County Council is also a partner.

When creating the garden, the ATL Group was supported by the Growing Durham project, which gave practical advice and helped with funding applications.

The ATL Group was set up by a number of Consett locals who had noticed “vulnerable members of our community struggling financially and having difficulty covering food and energy costs.”

There was also concern about “individuals becoming isolated and lonely.”

The ALT Group aims to improve the local environment and bring people together so that they can learn new skills, start new friendships and create support systems. It also offers “activities to anyone in our community based around growing, sharing and eating food.”

Liz Charles said, “The ALT Group is working in the heart of its community, transforming a long-neglected plot of land around Blackhill Comrades Club.”

“Local volunteers have already made a big difference with raised beds and planting bee-friendly flowers.”

“Green shoots are showing and in a few weeks’ time it will start to burst into colour.”

“The members have great plans for the future and are worthy recipients of this award.”

Terry Collins, chair of the County Durham Environment Partnership, said, “It’s wonderful to see such community spirit, and the ALT Group thoroughly deserves this award.”

“It’s always heart-warming to see local people really make a difference in their communities, and I’d encourage anyone who might be interested in getting involved to get in touch.”

For more information about the Durham Environment Partnership, please visit www.countydurhampartnership.co.uk or phone 03000 266 099. You can also keep track of local environmental issues via #altogethergreener on Twitter.

You can discover more about the ALT Group by going to www.thealtgrp.co.uk.

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