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New community growing ground gets green light

New community growing ground gets green light

Sunday 07 March 2021

New community growing ground gets green light


A new sustainable community ground will soon be sprouting in St. Helier, providing opportunities for islanders to grow different crops for those in need, while learning about environmental issues.

GROW is the brainchild of Thrive Jersey and will be based at a 13-vergée site near Surville Cemetery.

The collaborative project aims to positively impact islanders' physical and mental wellbeing, while the fruit, vegetables and produce grown on site will be distributed to people who need them.

It also aims to be a hub for education and awareness about issues that affect everyone, such as the climate emergency, biodiversity loss, sustainable transport and responsible soil management. 

Video: A look at the 13-vergée site located in Sion.

“Lockdown has reminded us of the restorative impact getting outdoors can have. We want to harness the positive energy of ‘Vitamin Nature’ and create a nurturing, inclusive environment where people can benefit from growing, harvesting, collaborating and learning new skills,” Thrive’s Andy Le Seelleur MBE said. 

“By working together and taking a holistic approach we can make meaningful changes. GROW is a positive force for good – for both people and the planet."

The project site, located in Sion, has been designed by local environmentalist Sheena Brockie.

Sheena Brockie

Pictured: Sheena Brockie has designed the site.

“I am excited by the vast array of opportunities this site will provide, from the physical and mental health benefits for the people who will join us, outside and connecting to nature, to the vital role we have as guardian of this land, to protect and value our environment,” she said.

“The project has sustainability at its core and has been designed in consideration of the Sustainable Development Goals.

"We plan on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through regenerative land management practices, and also by replacing annual crops with perennial fruit and nut trees to increase the carbon storage potential.”

Work_gets_started_on_the_GROW_site.jpg

Pictured: There will be plenty of opportunities for volunteers to get involved in the project.

GROW will conduct regular wildlife surveys to capture and measure the impact of the project on a range of species – from amphibians and bats to insects and reptiles - and there will be opportunities for islanders to get involved in this too.

The project has been granted operational consent for the site and is working in close partnership with the Parish of St. Helier, which owns the land adjacent to Surville Cemetery.

“The Parish is always keen to support and be part of projects, like GROW; projects that create new experiences and bring our community together,” Jason Turner, Chief Executive Officer of the Parish of St Helier, commented. 

“Spending time on the GROW site will create opportunities to start up new conversations, meet people you might not usually meet, share experiences and build friendships. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for our skilled parks and garden team to share their experience and talent and I know they are really keen to get involved.”

1GROW_thrive_jersey.jpg

Pictured: 150 apple, pear and other fruit and nut trees will be planted by the end of March.

The first step in the project will be to plant approximately 150 apple, pear and other fruit and nut trees by the end of March. Arranged in alleys, the trees will then be interspersed with fruit bushes and underplanted with a range of herbs, berries, vegetables and pollinating flowers in line with permaculture design principles.

Planting alleys will allow crop rotation which plays a vital role in protecting and creating a good soil structure, improve carbon retention, increasing and fixing nitrogen and reducing soil erosion.  

Constable Simon Crowcroft is also supporting the project. “Green space is at a premium and I am so pleased to be able to support this partnership between the Parish of St Helier and GROW,” he said.

“The community project has the potential to become a green lifeline for many people and will help to forge new connections across Jersey. I look forward to the project flourishing from season to season for many years to come.”

To get involved with GROW email enquiries@growtogether.je.

Q&A...

What is GROW’s mission? 

"GROW is a community-led action project aimed at addressing multiple social issues in Jersey. The vision is to create the most inclusive outdoor community project. The current site will be transformed by planting, nurturing and harvesting a wide range of a fresh fruit and vegetables to be distributed to those in Jersey who do not have ready access to nutritional food."

Where is the site? 

"Field H1115 in Sion is an agricultural field on the St. Helier/St. John border. The field is twelve verges, twenty-five perch and 12 feet and has full agricultural conditions imposed. The field has been in Jersey royal potato production for a number of years and is currently in cover crop.

"It is surrounded by organically managed land to the west and east, a cemetery and allotments to the south and agricultural land to the north. There are ponds and woodland in the near vicinity. Access to the field is from a private lane to the north, accessed from La Grande Route de Saint-Jean."

Pictured: Field H1115 is an agricultural field on the St. Helier/St. John border.

How can islanders get involved?

"There are many ways to get involved, irrespective of age, ability, disability or gender. Volunteers can get involved in on and off-site activities including logistics, client liaison, educational activities, site and crop maintenance and food distribution."

What’s the long-term plan?

"As the project develops, GROW will provide innovative wellbeing, education and employment opportunities within a wonderful outdoor environment. It will also champion issues including climate change, sustainable transport and community nutritional deficit."

How is GROW being funded? 

"GROW is one of a number of projects being seeded by Thrive Jersey, a collective of community innovators, but will also be responsible for its own fundraising activities at a project level."

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