The Houghall Allotment Club Spring Fest

The Spring Fest was arranged as a celebration of the achievements, of everyone involved in the establishment of the Houghall Allotment Club, and the tremendous hard work of all the volunteers who have helped make it such a success.

The event marked the completion of the first 6-month in the life of the Club. East Durham College set up the new Houghall Allotment Club in September following a success bid for a grant from the Government’s Transformation Fund for informal adult learning.

Over 60 members have joined the club, coming to work on the allotment from across the county, from Durham to Consett, Ferryhill to Darlington. The visitors book as had over 400 visits recorded.

The Club has helped to show people and students at the College how to plan and site an allotment, construct raised beds and paths and grow a range of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Beverly Stevens, a Lecturer with the Horticulture Department at the College, said: “There has been an awful lot of very hard work needed to set up the new Club and to turn an over grown patch of rough land into the fantastic allotment you see today.

“The weather has not been very kind to us but the enthusiasm of the people involved has more than made up for that.”

Sylvia Bell a volunteer from Coxhoe, said: “I’d really like to get my own allotment, so this has been a great opportunity to learn the ropes. We have now built our own raised bed in the garden at home.

“I have twin boys, Matthew and Adam, with special needs, who love to come down to the allotment with me and help out at weekends, they get a great hands-on experience. Steve McLuckie (a Technician who helps staff the allotment) is brilliant with the lads, really kind and patient.”

Another volunteer, Christine Holt from Shincliffe, remarked: “The weather has been a problem, but I have been able to learn a lot. It’s improved my gardening skills and given me the confidence and knowledge to have a go at growing my own veg and fruit – on a small scale. I’m going to grow potatoes, peas, beans, strawberries and may be plant a couple of fruit trees.

The Allotment has also been able to benefit a number of organisations such as the North East Autism Society, various Youth Projects and Shotton Hall School.

All the volunteers were presented with a certificate and commemorative mug at the Spring Fest.