Hospital in bid to allot land for growth


Wimbledon food group are calling for hospital to liberate disused land


By Hannah Scott and Megan Weston

A group of food enthusiasts are calling for St George’s Hospital to liberate disused land for a new agricultural community enterprise.

Grow Your Own Food Wimbledon is proposing a transformation of green space at Wolfson Neurorehabilitation Centre at Copse Hill, part of St George’s NHS Trust.  

Plans awaiting approval include a sensory garden for patients and allotment space to cater for the increasing waiting list of growers.

Spokesman for the group Harry Vaneris said: “The Community Allotment Project will serve as a focal point to generate community interaction and engagement.

“Residents will be able to work side by side – getting their hands dirty in the soil and then being able to eat the results.”

The proposal forms part of a wider plan by the group to encourage growing communities and to educate people on the benefits of cultivating their own fruit and veg.

In Merton, there has been a 77% increase in waiting list entries for allotments over the past two years.

Due to such high demand, residents are now only allowed to enter the waiting list for one plot.

Councillor Andrew Judge, Cabinet Member for Environmental Sustainability, said: “It is great to see the popularity of allotments grow over the years as looking after an allotment promotes a healthy lifestyle.”

The purpose-built rehabilitation facility cares for patients who have suffered strokes, traumatic injuries to the brain or spine, brain damage and long-term conditions like multiple sclerosis.

According to horticultural therapy charity Thrive, gardening is proven to help people recover from an illness and can slow down the deterioration of someone with a degenerative illness.

Spokesman for National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Donna McDaid said: “Once you have tried to grow your own food in your back garden, you realise how enjoyable it is and that if you did have an allotment, the amount you could grow would increase dramatically.”

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