Gardening groups plan to get Hastings growing its own food after winning a Government grant

Ore in Bloom and Ore Community Land Trust have joined forces to provide the people of Hastings with a free online introduction to growing their own food.

The grant, from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the National Lottery Community Fund has enabled the two groups to produce a series of online lessons and course materials that will be released throughout March and will be available to access at any time. Lessons start from the basics of seed sowing and progress through fruit tree pruning, the importance of pollinator plants, “potting-on” and outdoor sowing.

Titled The Green Shoots of Spring, the course aims to reconnect people with nature after the long winter months and celebrate the signs of the turning season. The short webisodes will equip participants with essential skills and affordable methods to make the most of their outside spaces, no matter how small.

Amanda Jobson, photographer and community gardener at Ore Community Land Trust in Speckled Wood said: “Spring is one of the most exciting times of the year for gardeners and nature lovers. Throughout Speckled Wood and other woodland around Hastings you can witness the changing season and more obvious evidence of our precious local wildlife, and the better weather makes us all want to spend more time outside.”

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“Ore Community Land Trust created a Community Garden last year, just a short walk down from Ore Village Green, for local residents to come and get involved in growing vegetables, plants, enjoying the natural garden and woodland. We want these courses to give people the skills and inspiration to have a go and we’re looking forward to seeing more locals when the restrictions ease in Speckled Wood.’

Anna Locke, garden designer and coordinator of Ore in Bloom said of the project: “Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to promote healthy eating at any age and is one of the most rewarding ways to develop new gardening skills. It’s also fantastic exercise and has proven mental health benefits, issues which have been so pertinent this winter in particular, so we are hopeful that this project will give people the encouragement and knowledge to make the most of available outside spaces in the coming months.”

“The methods we use not only help the local community re-engage with nature; we also aim to nurture indigenous ecosystems through an appreciation of the local wildlife and sensitive planting.”

Originally intended to run as hands-on, practical gardening sessions, the course was reorganised in light of the continuing Covid restrictions and organisers hope the digital-only format will make the lessons accessible to even more people.

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The project comprises five concise episodes filmed at Ivy House Nursery and Speckled Wood. A new episode will be made available every week until the end of March and content can be returned to at any time.

Episodes available to view now are: Sow any seed: everything you need to know about seed types and germination; Pruning Fruit Trees: what, when and how to cut to keep fruit trees healthy and bountiful and Sowing Pollinator Plants.

Sowing Seeds Outside will be available from Friday March 19 and Potting-On is available from March 26.