New community garden opened at Chester House Estate which hopes to be 'cornerstone of education' in Northamptonshire

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A community garden has been unveiled at the Chester House Estate near Irchester which hopes to establish a learning environment, grow local produce and ‘bring the sense of community to partners and visitors’.

The garden project is part of a partnership initiative with Creating Tomorrow College, Nene Rivers Trust and the Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC).

The project will focus on providing opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and learning about food and resources.

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Potatoes, peas, garlic, chili, fennel and carrots have been planted in the garden, with the intention of using waste from the attraction’s Farmhouse cafe as compost.

Potatoes, peas, garlic, chili, fennel and carrots have been planted in the gardenPotatoes, peas, garlic, chili, fennel and carrots have been planted in the garden
Potatoes, peas, garlic, chili, fennel and carrots have been planted in the garden

Cllr Helen Howell, North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for sport, leisure, culture and tourism, said: “I am immensely proud of the collaboration among various partners to establish a lasting community resource.

“This garden is more than a source of fresh produce for the café and our vegetable box program - it is a cornerstone of education at our onsite Creating Tomorrow College.

"Here, students not only cultivate employability and life skills but also gain practical knowledge in horticulture and culinary arts, ensuring they are prepared for the future."

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The Creating Tomorrow College has a classroom at the attraction, and offers a curriculum focused on developing skills for employment for young adults with cognition, learning, and social difficulties.

The garden project is part of a partnership initiative with Creating Tomorrow College, Nene Rivers Trust and the Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC)The garden project is part of a partnership initiative with Creating Tomorrow College, Nene Rivers Trust and the Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC)
The garden project is part of a partnership initiative with Creating Tomorrow College, Nene Rivers Trust and the Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC)

Produce that is grown will be used for the Nene Rivers Trust’s food preparation classes, with the eventual hope of selling vegetable boxes on site at cheaper rates to make healthy eating more accessible to all.

The community garden will be open for the public to visit from early summer. The project team is urging local businesses to support with funding, grounds clearance and partnerships to ‘further strengthen the garden as a community asset.’

Rickileigh Edwards, project officer at Nene Rivers Trust, added: “The expert curators at the estate advised us on where we could build the garden so it didn’t interfere with the archaeology under the landscape, and we created the garden through ‘no dig methods’ using raised bed planters built from pallets that we found and repurposed.

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"The students have been using egg boxes as planters to sprout flowers and herbs before planting them in the planters, and we have designed a rainwater catching system off the side of one of the buildings to collect up to two thousand litres of water.”

Eden Wild, a florist who is based at Chester House, also donated a crate full of small plants that have also been planted in the new garden.

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