Over 1,000 ‘grow-your-own’ kits will be delivered to residents, schools and care homes as part of the Hands of Hope charity’s ‘Get Growing’ project. The free kits give people the opportunity to grow their own food in whatever space they have, from a windowsill to an allotment.

Kerry’s daughter enjoying her grow kit

The idea started in response to Covid-19 in early 2020, when volunteers delivered more than 250 free grow kits with funding from the National Lottery, Kent Community Foundation, Sussex Community Foundation, Card Factory in Hastings and The Fore.

“There are endless benefits to growing your own food”, says Hands of Hope trustee Mandy Doran. “It reduces food waste and saves money. It cuts food miles, helping the environment. If you grow too much you can share the surplus. Growing your own connects you to nature and improves mental health and wellbeing. Best of all, anyone can do it – you don’t even need a garden.”

Cathy weeding the polytunnel

Kerry, whose daughter is pictured, said: ‘Get Growing showed my children how food grows. It lifted our spirits to grow something from seed, nurture and eat it.’

Those new to gardening or worried they don’t have green fingers can access growing tips and help from Get Growing’s website whenever they need to. James Doran, Founder of Hands of Hope Charity says, “Get Growing aligns with the NHS’s five ways to wellbeing: Connect, Learn, Be Active, Take Notice and Give Back.”

Get Growing also grows tonnes of fresh, organic food in its heritage walled kitchen garden in Hawkhurst. This is harvested and delivered to local food banks and community support groups.

Emma harvesting beans

“A project of this scale couldn’t happen without our amazing team of volunteers”, says Mandy. “If you have time on your hands and want to get involved, we’d love to hear from you.”

Volunteers are needed at the garden in Hawkhurst to help prepare grow kits and harvest produce for food banks. Delivery drivers are also needed to drive Get Growing’s electric van and deliver the grow kits to Rother, Hastings and West Kent.

If you don’t have spare time but still want to support Get Growing, you can make a donation at hohcharity.co.uk – a £10 donation will pay for a grow kit for someone in need.

To get involved, please contact Mandy Doran at [email protected]

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