Sow We Grow is a great opportunity for us to turn the somewhat neglected garden at Bleakhouse Library in Olbury into a welcoming green space where local people can take part in workshops and events or simply relax in natural surroundings. It will be a safe and friendly place where nature can be explored and enjoyed. As well as creating this wildlife area, we want to use the garden to help people to learn more about growing food for themselves and their community in these difficult times, to know what plants and fruits they can forage locally and also to find out many other ways to stay healthy and even thrive on a low budget.

So we are setting up a blog that will have a stack of helpful swg3information, including gardening tips, recipes, information about up-coming events and short films highlighting outdoor activities in the garden – both creative and practical – and we will also set up display area in the library would also be set up to share this information.

Stephen Whitehead, artistic director of Countershade, says, “The garden will be a way of accessing free food and building a relationship with nature as well as a new way for people to relate to one another. People talk about community but what do they mean? We are giving people a practical reason why they should meet with each other. For instance the bread oven we plan to build in the garden will allow people to get together informally and bake bread, drink tea and chat – when do we actually get to do that with our neighbours? So what we are doing is creating a natural space which will in turn develop community.” He adds, “Ultimately, we expect that the garden will help local people to live in a more sustainable way, and become more connected to the environment and each other.”

swg2The money for the project has been generated by the Tesco #BagsofHelp campaign using the 5p tax paid by customers for plastic bags, a brilliant idea which has reduced the amount shoppers use bags by 80% while supporting worthwhile eco-projects throughout the country! Stephen says, “What’s really positive about this is that people have chosen this for themselves – the tax has placed the power in their hands and they have made the right decision, choosing the ecology over convenience. It’s allowed people to make a choice and they have chosen to be greener.” Bags of Help gives us the kick-starter we need to get our project off the ground, into the ground actually, allowing us enough money to seed Sow We Grow, which, in turn will reseed itself every year (pun intended!).

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