Why grow your own Vegetables?

Three Reasons to Grow Your Own Vegetables

The Prince Bishops once harvested the finest of foods grown in the Walled Garden at Auckland Castle for their banqueting table. Once the restoration work is complete, the Walled Garden will once again be a source of fresh produce – only this time it will be incorporated into the seasonal menus available across our cafes and restaurants for our visitors’ delight.

In anticipation of this, at the Bishop Auckland Food Festival this weekend, we’re offering the chance to sample our Catering Team’s signature courgette and walnut cake, alongside chocolate and beetroot brownies. We’ll also be giving away seeds and recipe cards so that you can have a go at growing your own fresh vegetables and then use them to bake these cakes at home.

Getting active

We’re passionate about the plot to plate ethos here at The Auckland Project and this means encouraging as many people as possible to get their hands dirty and try growing their own fruit and vegetables. It doesn’t matter if you have a huge garden or a small back yard, just a single pot is enough space to grow something that you can harvest and eat and there’s nothing like the satisfaction of having grown your own food, or its amazing flavour.

There are so many benefits to growing your own food, from the simple pleasure of nurturing a seedling to the zing of tasting a still-warm sun-ripened tomato straight from the vine. Gardening also provides excellent moderate exercise for those struggling to get their recommended 150 weekly minutes; and there are few better ways of lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and improving overall wellbeing than an hour or two spent in the fresh air surrounded by plants.

Be in tune with nature

And it’s not just us humans who benefit – most of our insects are dependent upon the shrubs, flowers, fruits and vegetables that we grow in our suburban gardens for food. They in turn provide valuable services in terms of pollinating our crops and becoming food for our small mammals and birds.

Meet like-minded people

As part of our wider community work, The Auckland Project’s Engagement Team have rescued an overgrown allotment on the Woodhouse Close allotment site and have spent the last few months clearing, redecorating and rejuvenating the space. We have been supported in our endeavours by a neighbouring allotment-based community group, Cultivate4life, and also a group of young adults from local education provider Catch 22.

Last year, with the help of some home-schooled children (and plants donated by The Auckland Project’s Parks and Gardens Team) we grew sweetcorn, onions, red and golden beetroot, chard, runner beans, peas, courgettes, squash, parsley and chives. We have even bigger and better plans for the future and from our little allotment up to our amazing 200 acre Deer Park, we at The Auckland Project are custodians of a stunning environmental heritage that we’d love everyone to share.

If you are interested in learning more about our horticultural engagement projects then please email us at engagement@aucklandproject.org, telephone 01388 743750 or come down and talk to us at Bishop Auckland’s Food Festival [link] on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 April 2018.

About the author: Tam Mayor is Community Projects Officer for The Auckland Project, where she works closely with local community groups and residents in our allotment, improving health and wellbeing through the plot to plate ethos and running a range of fun and educational engagement activities.

If you’d like to try your own versions of our Catering Team’s delicious cakes, you can find the recipes for courgette and walnut cake and chocolate and beetroot brownies here.

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