Environment in association with the Mirror

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Description

The project was started about 4 years ago when Elliot Wollen unable to get an allotment and talking to others decided that Harlow and the surrounding area would benefit from a Community based growing space so anyone who was interested but unable to get, commit or have time for an allotment could share a growing scheme.
He set up a fund raising scheme, found some disused fly tipped ex allotment land that had laid unloved for over 20 years and hence Herts and Essex Community Farm was born.
A weekend was spent clearing the site of some of the brambles and flytipped rubbish to enable the site to be accessed. Then the fun began and volunteers worked tirelessly clearing part of the land making growing beds putting in pathways and erecting poly tunnels
Within the first growing season we were able to grow enough vegetables to supply all our volunteers With produce and also supply the local Streets2Homes charity.
Extra help came by way of a local school who sent a group down as part of their day in the community scheme and they moved woodchip for paths planted vegetables and picked crops. We celebrated their achievement with a BBQ.
As there is no running water on the site this was overcome by installing of two big plastic tanks and saving rainwater, as we quickly found this wasn't enough so we sort permission to use a hand pump to pump water from the stream at the bottom of the farm into containers for watering.
Within the first year we had enough land cleared that we were able to start our yearly Farm Fest a free celebration to people in the area to showcase the projects progress. We invited local acoustic groups, spoken word performers and comedians to provide free entertainment. We organised different stalls and a BBQ. The event was hugely successful and has continued to grow every year.
We still supply the local Streets2Homes charity with fresh produce and a local charity cafe. We also now have a Free Veg Scheme which we advertise on social media we have excess produce and leave it in baskets on the gate of the farm which enables all people to have access to free fresh produce.
Every problem that has shown itself has been dealt with by a committee in which everyone who volunteers has a opportunity to put their comments and suggestions forward, which enables everyone to have some ownership within the project and we feel this helps everyone to feel part and shows their worth, as without volunteers this project would not have happened and be continuing to grow.
This year has been our most successful and along side our Farm Fest we have held an Easter Egg hunt and a 50,s style Afternoon Tea. We have also opened to raise money for the local hospice by way of their Open Gardens scheme and just recently held a Macmillan coffee morning. This has probably been one of greatest achievements this year being a volunteer group being able to give to other worthwhile charities.
During the last year we have been able to offer local schools an opportunity to be involved and grow produce as part of their studies. Also the areas Home School community have enjoyed days there learning about growing.We continue to work alongside other local groups to enable our contacts in the town and beyond to grow.
In the future we are hoping to get funds for our project to enable us to build disabled car park, a dry compostable disabled access toilet and have running water.
Our main aim is to involve everyone who wants to be involve regardless of background or ability.
As a group we believe it is a right for all to have access to fresh healthy food.
If we are successful with our bidding we would like to build our disabled toilet as we have discussed each of our future project and it was agreed this is the most vital.
This facility would benefit over 500 people during a year. It is a project that enables people to give back to society.
Please vote for us, you would enable us to grow for the future and enable us to help more people within the area.

Herts and Essex Community Farm

Location: Harlow

The philosophy of the farm is to treat everyone as equals, working the land together and learning as we go which has been a fantastic part of the project. We are committed to promoting environmental sustainability and this has been a great success, along with engaging with the local community.
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