Volunteers working on a new community garden project in Blackhill, County Durham can look forward to summer with confidence, now investment in new fencing has given their project a secure foundation.
The Alt group, a Community Interest Company (CIC) set up to reconnect people in Consett is the first company to benefit from newly-established housing provider Karbon Homes’ Unlocking Social Value Project. The initiative encourages Karbon’s contractors to contribute time, money and expertise to local community projects where they are working.
Karbon Homes was formed through a merger of Derwentside Homes with Isos Housing and Cestria Community Housing and started trading as one business earlier this month.
Deerness Fencing and Landscape, part of the Esh Group construction company, has been carrying out fencing works in the area and helped local volunteers to install fencing around the main planting area at Blackhill Club Community Garden last weekend.
The group facilitates projects in the area, which are run by local residents and holds a free community meal every Thursday from the club and works with volunteers to run the community garden.
Volunteers have been working all year-round planting flowers, trees, herbs and building up raised beds getting it ready in time for this summer. The group holds sessions every other Saturday and Tuesday teaching volunteers essential environmental and horticultural skills using organic permaculture techniques.
Now that the fencing has been installed, volunteers will concentrate on putting the finishing touches to the garden by laying paths to make it user friendly and more accessible for wheelchairs, buggies and children. They will also be installing a polytunnel, decking area and planting up a wildlife trail for bees, butterflies and birds.
The planting area will be open to the local community to grow fruit and vegetables which will be used to supply the weekly community meal.
Terri Lee-Shield, company director of the Alt Group, said: “Our aim is to improve the local environment and bring people together by providing free of charge activities including the community meal and garden project.
“We share Karbon Homes’ ethos of providing services to benefit local communities and we are delighted to be the first community project to benefit from the social value framework. The fencing is a really important addition to the garden and to the local community.
“Deerness has done a wonderful job and it was a big help to our volunteers. The staff were brilliant and spent time with them providing advice on materials and teaching them new skills. The fence has really improved the garden aesthetically and we can’t wait to get it finished in time for the whole community to enjoy this summer.”
Jim Bates, managing director of Deerness Fencing and Landscaping, said: “Supporting the communities in which we work is a core principle of Esh Group.
“Applying our skills and knowledge to benefit Blackhill Club Community Garden, through the Unlocking Social Value project, was hugely rewarding for our staff too.
“We’re fully in support of this great initiative from Karbon Homes.”
Jessica Wray, community investment officer at Karbon Homes, said: “This is our first ever project delivered under this scheme and what a fantastic community project to support. The Unlocking Social Value Scheme is about giving back to the local community, working with contractors to go above and beyond delivering their core contracts in the area. It’s about investing in time, money and sharing their expertise that will benefit local community projects.
“We are looking forward to seeing how the garden progresses over the coming months and seeing it in full bloom this summer.”