A County Durham community group which grows free fruit and veg for the local community has won an award.

Gardening project Veg Out recently scooped the Caring for your Environment Award. Based in Barnard Castle, Veg Out develops spaces for volunteers to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs that local people are free to pick and use.

Since Veg Out began in 2013, schoolchildren have been involved in the project, learning about how food is grown and produced and interacting with local organisations and businesses.

Inmates from the now-closed Deerbolt Young Offenders’ Institution have also helped with growing produce at Veg Out.

Veg Out took its inspiration from the Incredible Edible project. Based in Todmorden in West Yorkshire, Incredible Edible is a voluntary community group aiming to “provide good local food for all.”

Dr Ann Barmby recently received the award on behalf of Veg Out from the County Durham Environment Partnership, of which Durham County Council is a leading member.

The Caring for your Environment Award is presented to individuals and groups who have shown commitment to protecting and enhancing their local environments.

The award was presented by Liz Charles, the chair of the Environment in Your Community group, a sub-group of the County Durham Environment Partnership. Liz said, “It was a real pleasure to present this award to Veg Out.”

“Their work is evident at locations around the town, with raised beds offering a choice of edible plants.”

“They have also involved lots of schoolchildren along the way and been an inspiration to many to grow some food and look after their local environment.”

“When problems have arisen, they have persisted, adapting their ideas and developing new ones. I hope more people get involved and join in the rewards and benefits of active gardening.”

Dr Barmby said the next stage of the Veg Out project would involve creating a wildlife garden.

Dr Barmby commented, “We are very grateful for this award and for all of Liz’s support and advice.”

“Our next job is to turn the land at The Hub in Barnard Castle into a wildlife garden and we are calling for residents to get involved.”

“We now have funding in place to pay for a skilled worker with strong gardening experience to help with the creation of the garden and lead-on activities, as well as for a number of support workers.”

The skilled worker role will pay an hourly wage of £25.00. The support worker roles will pay £9.00 per hour.

Anybody interested in applying for these positions can email Dr Barmby at dr.ann.barmby@hotmail.co.uk or telephone her on 07861 323 232.

Throughout the summer, Veg Out will be offering sessions for adults, families and children, in which people can learn skills such as willow weaving, garden art and creating bird boxes.

To learn more about the work of the County Durham Environment Partnership, please go to www.countydurhampartnership.co.uk or look out for the #altogethergreener hashtag on social media.

(The featured image shows Liz Charles with Veg Out members.)


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