By Caroline Spencer
More than 200 fruit bushes are being planted by Jersey’s largest community horticultural project this week.
Nearly half of them were planted at an open day on Saturday which was aimed at getting more Islanders involved in social and therapeutic horticulture. The rest will be done by school and community groups in the coming week.
GROW Jersey was established last year in a collaboration between Thrive Jersey, the parish of St Helier and The Good Jersey Life with the aim of promoting wellbeing and the benefits of nutritional foods while also tackling key issues such as sustainability and biodiversity loss.
GROW has already planted more than 100 fruit trees at its 13-vergée site at Sion.
Project leader Sheena Brockie said: ‘GROW is a wonderful initiative that seeks to tackle a number of environmental and social issues through the planting and sustainable management of a community-centred field. Thanks to generous funding from the Government of Jersey’s Countryside Enhancement Scheme we were able to invite members of the public to plant one of around 220 fruit bushes.
‘Our aim is to create a fully-inclusive horticultural operation where anyone can join in.’
She added that they now need to find more volunteer co-ordinators who can help run and manage days like this.
‘We also want people to sign up to our newsletter, and if they want to volunteer, let us know through the QR code which is on our GROW Jersey Facebook page,’ she said.
Among the families helping on Saturday, Derrick and Toni had brought along five-year-old Millie to plant a bush. Toni said: ‘I think it’s great to get involved and for the children to see. I said to Millie we can come back next year, and in five years and so on, to see our fruit bush grow. The environment is an important thing to support.’
Signs made by pupils at Grainville School showed visitors where additional parts of the project are planned, such as a sensory garden, calm zone and a community garden. Watering gangs will soon resume on Wednesday evenings.
Thrive Jersey chairman Andy Le Seelleur said: ‘ GROW is a great demonstration of how, through effective partnerships and a single field, we can start to tackle issues such as loneliness and isolation, nutritional deficit, food poverty and wellbeing.’