Garden for all gets underway

sp90574  Grassmoor allotment site to be developed for disabled use  l to r George Skelton,Anita Skelton
sp90574 Grassmoor allotment site to be developed for disabled use l to r George Skelton,Anita Skelton

A BUNCH of big-hearted and green fingered gardeners are spearheading a project to open their allotment to less able people in the community.

Garden for All is the brainchild of a team at Grassmoor allotments, who have kickstarted plans for an accessible plot on their Mill Lane site.

A six-strong team have formed a specialist committee and are working to transform the piece of land into a learning environment suitable for all users, including those in wheelchairs.

Getting behind the project are husband and wife, George and Anita Skelton, who travel from their home in Clay Cross to their allotment plot 365 days-a-year.

Anita, 53, a full-time carer for her brother in law, Ken, 51, who has learning difficulties, said: “I think it’s brilliant because people with learning difficulties don’t get a chance. They can come out here and do a bit on the allotment but also learn some skills. Everyone is good at something.”

With a double plot designated for the project, the team have set to work transforming the space into their vision for an educational, recreational and sustainable garden environment and with help from a team of volunteers from the Post Office on Low Pavements, Chesterfield, the Garden for All team have cleared the overgrown spot, which once house pigeon lofts.

Jane Smith, a business analyst at the Post Office, said: “We wanted to get involved more with the community and the team agreed on the Garden for All to volunteer for. Six of us went along for a few hours as a team building exercise and we cleared the whole spot, and filled two skips. It was good fun and we will be going there once a month from now on.”

What is currently a seldom used meeting hut will be transformed into a classroom and relaxation space, and the team want to welcome everyone, young and old, to spend time learning on the allotment.

“Rather than having ordinary beds, the idea is to have a ‘H’ shape so you can get in with a wheel chair and every bed will be raised” said Anita. “The plot will also have a polytunnel, flower beds, fruit trees, sensory areas and storage facilities.”

Cllr Ian Barlow of Grassmoor, Hasland and Winsick Parish council, said: “We are all for the garden. We haven’t got anything like this in the community and we are fully behind their plans.

“We have donated £200 to the project, with £300 pledged for when they have got the first beds in place.”

The team have also secured backing from a retired architect, who has drawn up plans for the garden, as well as free skip hire from Chesterfield based Re-use Skips. But with the raised beds expected to cost £1,500 alone, the project is still in need of a cash boost.

George Skelton, 67, is secretary of the Garden for All committee and has applied to Derbyshire’s Business Link for access to further funds. He said: “We are planning to put in for a funding for fencing, but we have struggled getting a firm out for a free quote. We are looking at £20,000 for the job and we have been told that the funding is there but we have to get three quotes.

“We are looking for anybody who is out there to donate some slabs, a shed and firstly someone with a JCB to level the ground off. That will give us a good kickstart.”

Can you contribute to the Garden for All project? Email