Youngsters growing their own vegetables in Chorley

PUBLISHED: 18:03 01 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:29 20 February 2013

Youngsters growing their own vegetables in Chorley

Youngsters growing their own vegetables in Chorley

Cookery editor Philippa James visits a project in Chorley which is a real labour of love

After a walk at Astley Hall, Chorley, I called at the recently refurbished coach house which now houses the very smart Caf Ambio, run by Southcott Catering, who are Andrew and Gillian Southcott, based in Flookburgh.

I got chatting to Antony Challis, the events director, and commented about the beautiful gardens, in particular the walled garden, with its raised beds; it didnt take Antony long to mention a fledgling gardening club, called Muck and Mirth, which sums up the spirit of a new venture in which disabled children and young people are enjoying growing their own fruit and vegetables, then harvesting them.

The children and young people all attend Lancashire County Councils respite care homes at Long Copse, Chorley, or Grimshaw Lane, Ormskirk, and this exciting project is an excellent example of the governments Aiming Higher for Disabled Children Programme.

The reason for using facilities at Astley Hall is because the venture was so successful at the unit that they quickly ran out of room and needed, literally, more space to grow. Barry Sharples, a recently retired child care worker at Long Copse set up Muck and Mirth as another activity for everyone to enjoy.

Mark Perks, county councillor for Chorley north and members of Chorley borough council identified the new site. Mark said: Its a great location because the beds are raised, which is perfect for our young people who use wheelchairs. The beauty of gardening is that everyone can join in - anyone can plant a seed and nature does the rest, with a little help.

Weve had help with this scheme from so many people and the young people are full of enthusiasm to get their hands dirty. Now all we need is for the sun to keep shining.

And it certainly was doing when a group of the children and their support workers came down to try tasters of this months soup recipe.

Dharini Chudasama and Luke Wareing tucked in enthusiastically, Barry was less keen, declaring a dislike of this small summer squash, despite growing hundreds of them every year.

I tentatively poured a drizzle into the bottom of his cup, he pulled a face, which then broke into a beaming smile as he declared: You can fill that up, its gorgeous!

Those who can help, do; planting, watering, weeding and harvesting while others can watch and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Hannah Buckley helped me by bringing items from my car to the garden.

Barry said, after seeing a demonstration by Margaret Robinson, from the giant vegetable seed company at Forton, they entered a competition run by Avant Gardens, in Leyland, to grow some massive runner beans and members of the group were delighted to win a greenhouse.

See me cooking

Over the next few months I will be demonstrating how to cook quick and tasty family meals with local produce at farmers markets.

On Sunday June 12th at Burscoughs Older Peoples Club, Lord Street, open from 10am to 1pm. And on Sunday June 26th at Cuerden Valley Park, Bamber Bridge, open from 10am, to 2pm.

There will be free tastings and recipe sheets, too.

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