The team behind a new inclusive community horticultural scheme is appealing to Islanders to help them get the project out of the ground.
GROW is the brainchild of Thrive Jersey and will see a 13 vergée site in the heart of Jersey’s countryside transformed into an organic, sustainable, multi-crop and educational site for the whole community. The site is in Sion and is an agricultural field on the St Helier/St John border.
The collaborative project aims to make a significant positive impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of Islanders. The fruit, vegetables and produce grown on site will be distributed to people who need it. The community smallholding will 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.
Thrive’s Andy le Seelleur MBE says; “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. 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. If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can get involved we’d love you to get in touch.”
Operational consent for the site has been granted and GROW is working in close partnership with the Parish of St Helier, who own the land adjacent to Surville Cemetery.
Jason Turner, Chief Executive Officer of the Parish of St Helier comments: “The Parish is always keen to support and be part of projects, like GROW; projects that create new experiences and bring our community together.
“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.”
The first step is to plant approximately 150 apple, pear and other fruit and nut trees by the end of March 2021. 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.
The project site has been designed by local environmentalist Sheena Brockie, who founded The Good Jersey Life. She says: “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.
“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.”
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. There will be plenty of opportunities for volunteers to get involved and put their citizen science skills towards helping track Jersey’s biodiversity.
Supporting the new community project, Constable Simon Crowcroft, adds, “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. 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 find out how you get involved contact the project team by emailing the team here.