27 June 2016 / Categories: Food Carlisle Lovers’ Lane Community Garden: Dig for Dinner Lovers’ Lane Community Garden is a community project run by volunteers in Brampton, Cumbria People interested in becoming members of the community garden can do so by paying an annual fee of £10. Membership means that by spending some time working in the garden, all fruit and vegetables produced are shared out around all members, and they are more or less self-sufficient. Members contribute whatever time or skills they can and do not need to be a knowledgeable gardener. The majority of the members are older people and they clearly benefit from the garden, sharing the physical work and enjoying the social aspects of the community. There has been some home schooled children who love being involved. When the constitution and vision for the community garden were set up, they envisaged a broader audience, in particular encouraging families. The organisers applied for funding for the Dig For Dinner project to help them target a group that has not yet engaged with the garden – families of young children. The project was funded through the NHS Healthy Choices funding which was managed by Cumbria County Council’s Community Grant team. Lovers’ Lane Community Garden, in partnership with Brampton Primary School, invited a small group of families with young children to take part in the project. Their chef was invited to do a foody demonstration at a school assembly which really excited the children who then went home and persuaded parents to apply for a place on the project. Numbers were kept low so that the activities remain a quality and individual experience for all taking part. The project consisted of 2 blocks of five session courses. The 2 hour weekly sessions ran as an after school club and a member of the school staff accompanied the families throughout the sessions. During each session, time was spent in Lovers Lane Community Garden exploring different aspects of gardening (digging, sowing seeds, transplanting, harvesting, understanding about composting and feeding the soil etc). Ready produce was picked and during the second part of each session, the families transformed the vegetables into a tasty dish with guidance from their chef, Michael Evans. Families learnt about using herbs, food preparation techniques, discovered new recipes and flavour combinations and how to share cooking with children. Lover's Lane Community Garden ensured on-going evaluation throughout the programme, taking images, posting on Facebook, writing a weekly blog (with input from the young people). Border TV filmed one week and showcased the project on Lookaround. “An excellent and well edited snapshot of the project.” There were at least 2 articles in the Cumberland News, both before and during the project. Some quotes from the project: “Been brilliant and showing children how to behave in a garden. Loved the bread and curry”. “ Several families said they were now gardening with their children at home now whereas before the project, they didn’t include them. “The girls help daddy in the garden/veg patch more now. Kerra helps in the kitchen with me now”. “We will definitely plant some pots with vegetables. Nice to have fresh veg from the garden”. “We have a tiny garden but are going to grow potatoes, onions and herbs” When asked if the project would influence their family’s eating choices: “Definitely ,we have started eating healthier”. “I really hope so. Lucas and Felix loved doing the fruit and veg kebabs”. Why did the school want to get involved in the project? “To strengthen connection between parents and children – communication and interacting through the stimulus of being outside so that the writing in school can be underpinned by talk. Showing how the families can make healthy choices. More to the project than food, there is scope for health education and people can access it at different levels. The message has been really powerful”. Outcomes 4 of the 12 families have joined the community garden as members. The school felt that ‘the message has been really powerful’ but they were ‘not really sure how much of an impact it has had on what the children are actually eating’. The teacher felt that the project had definitely ‘impacted on confidence with some individual children who wouldn’t attend after school clubs at all before this one’. The project offered ‘flexibility in terms of who comes (siblings were encouraged) so the families helping each other out with small children was positive’. The older children were given special tasks, for example, one wrote a contribution to the blog at school. ‘Helping older ones develop their initiative has been a real success’. Parents, who started the project standing back, became much more involved as the weeks went by – this is one of the benefits of designing a longer term project. The chef is now going into school weekly to run an after school cookery group. Another project is starting to be discussed which will possibly look at re-cycling and dealing with waste in the school. It is proposed to involve the primary school, the community garden, Sustainable Brampton and Brampton Community Centre. For further details: Email: [email protected] The Dig for Dinner blog can be found at: http://digfordinnerbrampton.blogspot.co.uk Facebook page: Loverslanecommunitygarden Contact number: 07871 403 787 Print 6109 Rate this article: No rating More links http://digfordinnerbrampton.blogspot.co.uk Please login or register to post comments.