The youth organisation recently became the owners of a new allotment in Ryde which is very near one of Sovereign’s biggest estates on the Isle of Wight. Many of the properties are flats without access to a garden; it is hoped that having an outside space close to the Sovereign properties will encourage attendance from residents.
The community grant has enabled Network Ryde to employ the help of local Ryde contractor, Damon Rigby of D.Rigby Building & Landscaping, to clear the site, which was extremely overgrown by weeds. Damon used a mini digger to turn over the ground and remove the green waste, ready for the young people to safely start work on the site.
It is widely recognised that spending time surrounded by nature has many benefits, both physically and mentally. During lockdown, a large number of young people struggled emotionally, several noting that they experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation. Many young people in Ryde do not have their own gardens; the Network Ryde team hope that having access to an allotment will make a huge difference to them, providing the opportunity to learn about gardening, get hands on, and ultimately promote their well-being and confidence.
The initiative will engage the young people in every stage of the development of their site; from designing the space, planting, growing and eventually using their own produce to cook with. Generating environmental awareness is also an important element; creating a biodiverse plot which coexists with nature being a high priority.
Becky Swan (Youth Work Manager) comments:
“We have a fantastic opportunity with the allotment to encourage and support young people to get outside and to gain new skills learning about self-sufficiency and being part of the allotment community. We are incredibly thankful for Sovereign Housing for their grant as it is has enabled us to start with a blank canvas and let the young people design their whole allotment”.
Since being awarded the Sovereign grant, Network Ryde have begun safely working at the allotment with their young people; as a result, after October half term, the youth organisation will be running a weekly Saturday morning session, and 2 sessions per week, in partnership with Ryde Academy, supporting small groups of young males who are at risk of exclusion or struggling to reengage with school after lockdown.
The young people involved will also have the chance to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award, using their allotment work as valuable evidence.
Network Ryde envisage the allotment will foster a new sense of community togetherness, creating opportunities for intergenerational links to develop; a positive space to grow, allowing the young people to gain gardening knowledge and top tips from other plot holders. It is hoped that these meaningful social interactions will promote citizenship and have lifelong effects within the Island’s community.
The allotment’s progress will be well documented via Network Ryde’s social media platforms and Network Ryde are hoping to transform the plot over the autumn/winter, getting it ready for planting in the spring.