Down to Earth Allotment
Our Down to Earth Allotment project helps build communities and connect people to nature through volunteering programmes on our 6 allotment plots, learning to develop new skills.
What we do
Our Down to Earth Allotment programme is based in inner city Chelmsford where we run six plots, opening them up to a range of community groups and schools.
Most of our young adult volunteers are living with mental or physical disability, and we also use the allotment to engage recovery clients from Open Road (Drugs & Alcohol charity), MENCAP, New Hall School and Columbus School & College, catering for young people with complex and severe learning difficulties.
Currently the food grown at the allotment is shared amongst those growing it as this is the best way to learn where our food comes from and engage people with the subjects of nutrition and cooking. When there is a surplus we will also make food donations to Sanctus a charity that helps feed the homeless and vulnerable people in need in the local area.
We also host allotment open days where our growers can sell their produce to visitors.
Click here for the the latest updates at the allotments.
The difference we make
Participation in the local food programme provides residents with an improved sense of community, gives a sense of belonging and inclusion, educates residents about the benefits of healthy living and healthy eating and can improve mood, confidence and self-esteem.
Participants report improved motivation, the development of teamwork skills, a greater awareness of others in need and the opportunity to participate and achieve in a safe environment.
The scheme directly contributes to community health and wellbeing through the provision of organic food grown on site. Surplus produce (not consumed by participants) is donated to the food bank, spreading the benefit of the project even further.
Physical activity like digging and weeding contributes to improved physical health, while workshops and activities such as food preparation and cooking help participants to improve their skills and acquire new knowledge.
The allotments are a peaceful and rewarding way to build community spirit and connection with land, food and nature, and are an area we hope to expand and would direct Co-Op support toward.
- Grow a range of food crops in the outdoor beds;
- Grow fruit and tomatoes in the all-weather poly-tunnels we have erected on site;
- Plant, weed and maintain the plots;
- Participate in workshops to encourage skills development and healthier lifestyles;
- Socialise during lunch and refreshment breaks;
The scheme is open to all and has been designed to be as inclusive as possible, through the provision of raised beds that the elderly and infirm can tend, as well as wheelchair accessible vegetable containers that salad crops can be grown in.
We would also welcome visitors to our allotments to experience for themselves some of the wonderful young adults finding their nature connection there.
Michael volunteers at the allotment site on a regular basis and thoroughly enjoys his time on site each week.
He travels some distance to get to the project, but always arrives with plenty of energy and enthusiasm and ready to get to work.
He had particularly enjoyed creating our wildlife pond area, which encourages frogs and amphibians into the area.
They are a great natural method of pest control for our organic crops.
Michael tells us in his own words why he enjoys being a part of the Local Food Programme and encourages everyone to “Give it a go!”
“A quick email to say thank you to everyone in the Wilderness Foundation team, in particular Jonathan, for working with our NHVS Wilderness students this term. They have thoroughly enjoyed their time at the allotments and are very keen to return in March.”