The Plot to Plate project started as a tiny idea born from another project where tabletop gardening was used to allow disabled and older people the opportunity to grow flowers and tomatoes in pots.
They enjoyed this so much we looked into the idea of creating a space where people with impairments could physically grow their own produce. We soon realised there were no ready made allotments suitable so applied for funding from the Lottery who gave us enough funds for the initial build and one years running costs. The build started in January 2017 with many staff and volunteers from Disability Direct giving up their weekends to spend in the snow and rain building an accessible plot on Little Chester Allotments in Derwent Heights.
The Plot opened to the public in April 2017 and welcomed it first disabled and older members who took no time in getting seedlings planted and beds ready for planting.
Members kept joining and in no time we had 10 people who tended to the plot twice a week. We took on Alison from Little Chester Allotments to mentor the members and we soon had our first produce.
The first summer was an amazing success with an array of fruit and vegetables being grown and all members getting involved in all aspects of keeping the plot going. We saw how people with different impairments would support each other to ensure all jobs were done and no one was left out.
The project has many benefits including social inclusion, exercise and healthy eating. The healthy eating is made easier with the support of our wonderful cook Lizzy who has created 20 recipes using produce from the plot. All members have the opportunity to attend the cookery class and are involved in the planning and preparation. Many of our members are now eating veg they had never tried…..although it doesn’t matter how Lizzy cooks the sprouts, we still have a few reluctant eaters!
As well as the regular plot days we also hold plot related activities for older people and disabled people from the community. This allows us to get many more people involved and gives them the chance to learn something new whilst making friends and enjoying the allotment. Past activities have seen people build bird boxes, bee hotels and pumpkin lanterns.