The scheme began in October 2004 when Mahesh Pant gathered some friends around him to start a community allotment called ‘Grow Our Own’ (GO2) at the city council’s Bluebell South Allotments in Norwich.
He wanted to form a community of growers who shared produce, recycled, re-used, travelled by bike or public transport and generally cared for the environment and each other.
The first task was to make it easier for people to grow their own food. Instead of facing a large tract of overgrown land typical of a council allotment, they were offered small plots along with tools, seeds and plants shared with the other members.
Gradually, with generous grants from local authorities and local organisations plus many volunteer hours, new facilities were built. They included a meeting place, raised beds for wheelchair users, a greenhouse, an ingenious irrigation system and a composting toilet.
In the summer of 2013 a second project, the Marlpit Community Garden, was opened. It came under the umbrella of the Sustainable Living Initiative, the managing body for Grow-Our-Own, with the same objectives of community and sustainability.
With the acquisition of a 7 acre site wholly owned by SLI, there was more scope to realise other ideas. Marlpit now includes a forest garden, bee hives, single and group plots , an orchard, a herb garden, wild-flower areas and meadows.
The work and innovation continues so watch this space!