Tyne & Wear Communities to Benefit From Fresh Local Produce

Friday 27 June 2014

National Gardens Scheme and Royal Horticultural Society funds new project to get the community gardening

Gibside Community Farm, a newly formed Community Supported Agriculture Scheme, is celebrating after receiving funds from the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to grow fresh produce for local communities in Tyne & Wear.

The project, which was made possible by a bursary of more than £1,000 from the gardening charities, will help members of Gibside Community Farm transform a disused car park into a plot of land on which to grow vegetables. The renovation is part of a larger project to restore the walled garden on the National Trust’s Gibside Estate back to its former glory.

The members of the community group hope that the production of fresh vegetables will have a positive impact on the diets and lifestyles of residents. It is hoped that the project will bring residents together and increase the sense of community in the area.

The NGS Elspeth Thompson Bursary, which was named after the celebrated garden writer who died in 2010, will be used to buy the materials and equipment needed to bring this poor piece of land back to life and turn it into a productive community hub.

The completion of the project will be marked by the unveiling of a special commemorative plaque to acknowledge the work done by Gibside Community Farm and celebrate the legacy of Elspeth Thompson.
Lesley Mountain, from the Gibside Community Farm, said: “It’s been hard work transforming the compacted surface of the land, previously used as a car park, into plots to produce fresh vegetables and fruit for local people.

“All our volunteer members were encouraged when we received funds from the Elspeth Thompson Bursary to make the beds productive. We’ve been able to buy plug plants and mesh to keep down the weeds and this has made a huge difference to the progress we’ve been able to make. Now that the public can see vegetables growing on the plots interest is growing quickly and our membership increasing. We’re all looking forward to a great harvest!”

Jim Gardiner, Executive Vice-President at the RHS, said: “The RHS exists to share the great benefits of gardens and gardening with people of all ages and backgrounds. Projects that bring together communities are at the heart of what the Society works towards. The Society encourages communities to become self-sufficient and grow their own fresh produce as a healthier, low-cost option that brings them together. It is with great pleasure therefore that we are able to support this project through the Elspeth Thompson bursary award.”

Penny Snell, Chairman of the National Gardens Scheme, said: “The Elspeth Thompson Bursaries aim to support community projects and include diverse sections of society through horticulture and a community effort. Community gardening was very close to Elspeth's heart and we are delighted to be able to provide these bursaries in her name in partnership with the RHS."

The power of gardening to bring people together is at the core of the work the RHS undertakes in communities across the country. RHS Britain in Bloom is the UK’s largest community gardening campaign, involving more than 300,000 people. As part of RHS Britain in Bloom – and its sister campaign, RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood – volunteers in cities, towns, villages, urban communities and neighbourhoods work together to improve their local environment through gardening.


Notes to editors

To request an application form for the NGS Elspeth Thompson Bursary please contact Lizanne Gomez, RHS Bursaries Manager at ngsbursary@rhs.org.uk or call on 01483 479719.
Applications for the bursary are administered by the RHS and must be submitted by 31 December 2014.
For more information, please contact Hattie Sherwood in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3126 or email hattiesherwood@rhs.org.uk

*RHS Britain in Bloom: Transforming local communities is an Impact Report released in 2010 that looks at the power of community gardening in bringing people together: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Community-gardening/pdf/Britain-in-Bloom-Impact-Report  

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join  

About the National Gardens Scheme
The National Gardens Scheme’s Elspeth Thompson Bursary Fund was created in 2011 in memory of Elspeth who was passionate about the role that community gardens could play in people’s lives.
Founded in 1927, The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) has donated more than £22 million to charity in the last ten years.
Registered Charity No. 1112664


Latest press releases

About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262