Free community allotments in Buile Hill Park are open for Salford locals to grow their own fruit and vegetables to help residents with mental health.
Growing Togetherness CIC was set up 10 years ago. Mark Frith, the organisation’s director, was given the task of turning what was a bowling green into community allotments.
Mark said: “I struggled with mental health myself and I worked in very high-pressure jobs.
“I wanted a career change, so I started looking for something that was important, and that is the community.”
The community grew when the pandemic hit. The allotments were one of the few places that remained open during the lockdown.
Mark said: “Between thirty and fifty people came when we were open for sessions.
“Now that we are going back to work, the amount of people who are coming at once has changed. We’ve opened the sessions for longer because we’ve got the café open.
“So, people come and do their allotments when they need to, and we’ve got five or six volunteers who maintain the café and dig over the allotments.”
The organisation’s free pop-up café serves tea and coffee. Visitors are encouraged to donate.
People can grow a wide range of plants and produce. Potato beds are being dug up to make room for brassica and garlic just in time for winter.
Whatever you grow, you can take home. Often, people exchange produce and make food with each other.
Mark said: “If you’ve got no money, you can come here, have a drink, chill out, meet loads of nice people and feel better about yourself.”
Karen Ainsworth, Growing Togetherness CIC’s secretary, said: “It’s a really good atmosphere here. We know all our regulars.
“There’s one particular lady who can’t see very well and can’t hear very well and she says it gets very lonely.
“Here, there’s people around, so she’s not stuck in her house and will walk her home.”
Jean Haslam has been volunteering at the allotments for two years. She has her own allotment which she uses.
She said: “Especially with lockdown, it’s made a difference to a lot of people because we’ve not been able to go out.
“I’ve got medical conditions, so I was stuck in the house.
“Here, we could just potter about, and it was brilliant.
“It saved a lot of people, I think. It gives people something to look forward to.”
More information on the Buile Hill Park allotments community can be found here.