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Community kitchen garden spruced up by Redrow volunteers

A TEAM of green-fingered volunteers from a Flintshire housebuilder has helped Mostyn Kitchen Garden turn over a new leaf with a makeover.

Fourteen employees from Redrow Homes took a day out from working at the company’s Ewloe headquarters during Volunteers’ Week (June 1-12) to transform part of the garden, which grows fresh fruit and vegetables for the local community.

Set in the grounds of Mostyn Hall, the 2.5 acre, 18th century, restored walled garden initially started as a funded Intermediate Labour Market project and has now developed into an independent social enterprise.

The aim of the project is to assist with education, health and prosperity across all areas of the community. Participants from schools and local groups have the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers – encouraging exercise, social interaction and new skills.

The volunteers from Redrow overhauled two of the main beds; removing undergrowth and weeds, tending to the areas around the raspberry bushes to encourage better growth and create room for extra fruit bushes to be added, and introducing some extra herbs.

Kate Harcus, Redrow’s sustainability and social responsibility advisor, said: “It was great to have a large group of us to blitz a big area and remove a lot of the weeds that had taken over. The kitchen garden now has two large borders, ready for members of the local community to add extra herbs and produce. We’ve specifically chosen plants to attract pollinators to the garden and now they have a much better setting in which to grow.

“We’d like to thank our suppliers, Jewson, who have kindly provided materials to enable the Kitchen Garden to cover two polytunnels and build some raised beds. Some of our volunteers will be returning to fit the polytunnels over the summer.

“It’s a wonderful project that’s encouraging members of the local community to develop a love for gardening and home-grown food. We hope our day’s work will assist the Mostyn Kitchen Garden to generate more income through sales of produce.”

Members of Redrow’s sustainability, commercial, design and technical and health and safety departments took part in the project, along with the company’s Pathfinders team, a group of eco-minded employees who are tasked with building on Redrow’s sustainability credentials.

As well as welcoming volunteers to tend to the garden, the project also hosts events and courses such as “cut, cook and eat”, pruning, barbecues, flower arranging, dry stone walling, jam making, Christmas decoration making, willow sculpture and many others.

Philip Handley, Mostyn Kitchen Garden manager, said: “We are amazed at the amount of work that the team from Redrow managed to complete in just one day. It was a difficult task for our volunteers to attempt but the two borders have now been transformed. The new herbs will be appreciated by everyone and add to the wildlife habitat. We would like to say a big “thank you” to everyone for helping.”

This year the garden is in full production so that the 2.5 acres of beds and the extensive glasshouse will be used to grow many varieties of fruit and vegetables. This produce will be supplied directly to families, food co-operatives and local restaurants,  along with providing ingredients for its organic jams, chutneys and pickles business. All products are hand made in small batches in the newly converted kitchen on site.

Making the social enterprise even more sustainable, ex-battery rescue hens fertilize the earth and bees kept on site not only produce honey but also pollinate the plants and flowers in the garden.

The Mostyn Kitchen Garden was recently announced as a finalist in Delicious. Magazine’s 2016 Produce Awards for its raspberry jam and will find out if it’s a winner at the awards ceremony in July.

Redrow is one of the UK’s leading housebuilders and aims to be one of the most sustainable and socially responsible construction businesses by 2018. In 2015 the company’s developments continued to reduce their impact upon the environment, with carbon emissions down and more recycling facilities included in its homes.

Brownfield sites accounted for 57% of developments and 95% were within 500m of a public transport node. The amount of public open space created by Redrow almost doubled to 209 hectares and £128m of funds were committed to local communities for affordable housing, local education, highways improvements, public transport and other amenities.

For more on Redrow’s approach to sustainability and 2015 highlights go to: www.redrowplc.co.uk/sustainability.