A horticulture and environmental charity on the Kent and Sussex border has been awarded £2,400 from the CLA Charitable Trust (CLACT), to help support the next generation of market gardeners.
The trust is funded almost entirely by subscriptions and donations from members of the CLA, an organisation which represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses.
It provides grants to charities and community organisations who share its vision to help connect young people who are disabled or disadvantaged with the countryside and nature.
Set up in 2016, Hands of Hope is a community charity, delivering programmes and activities aimed at tackling rural isolation, loneliness and food poverty. It also works to improve the physical, mental and environmental health of communities throughout Rother, Hastings, and West Kent, by connecting them with nature and each other.
It is currently preserving Hope Farm Community Garden, a 22-acre site in Hawkhurst, located on the Kent and East Sussex border and home to an Edwardian walled market garden, a heritage orchard, a small gill wood and two large wildflower meadows.
The charity, which has recently been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, plans to use the CLACT grant to help deliver its ‘Seeds Planted’ initiative as part of its Get Growing programme, supporting children aged seven to 18 to learn to grow their own food, tackle food poverty and understand the environmental benefits of reducing food waste.
James Doran, Founder and Chairman of Hands of Hope, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this funding support from the CLA Charitable Trust.
“We develop our projects aligned to NHS five key recommendations – to connect, to be active, to take notice, to learn and to give back as well as the Government’s environmental strategy, “A Green Future”, which promotes resourcing Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) such as ours, to guarantee their long-term protection and enhancement.
“This is so natural environments can be used as a resource for preventative, therapeutic and educational purposes, using nature-based interventions to improve physical and mental health as well as teaching the next generation of potential market gardeners.”
Bridget Biddell, Chairman of CLACT, said: “From a walled garden in Kent, some amazing work is being undertaken, helping give opportunities to children and young people learning about growing, harvesting and cooking food.
“CLACT is excited by the vision and delivery of important work for community and individuals, in helping with social isolation, poverty and education through growing and producing vegetables. We are very pleased to support this work.”