Good to Grow - Gorleston's 'guerrilla gardening' project

Good to Grow staff

Good to Grow co-director Mike Smith-Clare (left), wellbeing advisor Sandy Lysaght and co-director Cathy Cordiner-Achenbach have built a community allotment in Gorleston with the help of residents from Gorleston and Great Yarmouth. - Credit: James Weeds

Employment opportunities and a chance to reconnect with nature are on offer at this Gorleston allotment.

Four acres of land, which were once used as the workshops for many of the beautiful flower beds seen on the seafronts of Gorleston and Great Yarmouth, is now home to a team of employees, volunteers and animals.

Good to Grow guinea pigs

One of the guinea pigs based at the Good to Grow community allotment. - Credit: James Weeds

Hidden behind the James Paget University Hospital on Potters Field, Bread Kitchen's Good to Grow allotment assists people looking to get stuck in with groundwork.

On the site, there are opportunities for people to learn more about the resident guinea pigs, chickens and sheep, as well as the chance to learn more about planting, growing and harvesting vegetables and herbs.

Directors Mike Smith-Clare and Cathy Cordiner-Achenbach took over the plot two years ago and with help from volunteers and other staff members, they transformed the wasteland into a luscious, green space which caters to all members of the borough.

Good to Grow sheep

One of the Jacob sheep at Good to grow's community allotment. - Credit: James Weeds

Mr Smith-Clare said: "This space is a green heaven. People can come along and just be. Our volunteers and staff learn what they can do and who they can be in this supportive environment.

"This is guerrilla gardening and there's no pomposity here."

Currently, the space has a separate animal handling area, crop growing area, breakaway spaces - including a sensory garden - and a children's play area.

The space is also used to train volunteers and funds are raised from private gardening work across the region.

Good to Grow staff

Luke Bullard found a new career in horticulture at Good to Grow. - Credit: James Weeds

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Luke Bullard, 22, began volunteering at the allotment at the end of 2020. Now an apprentice at the site, he is developing skills for a career in horticulture.

Mr Bullard said: "When I started, I had no job. This place gave me an opportunity and I've been here ever since. 

"I get to do jobs in people's gardens around the area and it's great seeing the end result. This is now an option for me for the future."

Also now a staff member at the allotment is Steve Girling, 33. He was referred to the allotment by the Job Centre as a volunteer but soon developed the skills to become the site supervisor.

Good to Grow staff

Steve Girling went from unemployed volunteer to the employed site supervisor at Good to Grow. - Credit: James Weeds

Mr Girling, 33, said: "I just love being outside. I've learnt new skills like building summer houses and sheds - that has been a highlight.

"I get here an hour early every morning. I just love it."

As well as providing employability skills workshops, Good to Grow also hosts lessons on animal handling.

Good to Grow staff

Ian Gibson and Marina Nunes taking pride in their work socialising guinea pigs at Good to Grow. - Credit: James Weeds

Ian Gibson, 52, and Marina Nunes, 49, were in charge of socialising guinea pigs and rabbits at the allotment.

Ms Nunes said: "We have been taking the animal care course for the past two weeks and they have been brilliant.

"As well as clearing out huts and feeding the animals, we've spent some time helping the guinea pigs adjust to people. At first, they didn't like being touched but now they are much more comfortable."

Mr Gibson added: "We like all the animals here, but the guinea pigs are our main focus. We've been told ferrets will be coming to the place as well, and we're looking forward to that."

Good to Grow staff and sheep

Work experience students from Ormiston Venture Academy with Good to Grow's shepherd Dev Presland. - Credit: James Weeds

Good to Grow is also hosting students from Ormiston Venture Academy for work experience. Under the tutelage of resident shepherd Dev Presland, the students were informed about the ins and outs of sheep rearing.

Mr Presland said: "You get to work with the animals and we're always bringing more. It's great to teach younger people about the woolly things out in the field and show them how to handle, weigh and how to act around different types of animals."

Good to Grow staff

Volunteer Sue Charles making origami displays for Good to Grow's section of the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival. - Credit: James Weeds

The allotment will be taking part in the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival in July, they will also be hosting a free-to-attend jumble sale on July 23 and will be hosting summer holiday workshops for school children.

Good to Grow staff

Mike Smith-Clare (left), Sandy Lysaght and Cathy Cordiner-Achenbach in front of some of the crops grown at Good to Grow. - Credit: James Weeds

Ms Cordiner-Achenbach said: "Hard work has made this possible. We're proud of our community of all ages, abilities and backgrounds who have put this together.

"Since Covid, people want to feel the grass under their feet and have that contact with other people and animals.

"We want people to have that ownership of their space."

For more information, visit Bread Kitchen's website or Facebook page.

Good to Grow staff and the logo

The Good to Grow community allotment is based at Potters Field, Gorleston. - Credit: James Weeds