Let’s Grow was started in May last year in Lodge Oak Lane in association with the mental health charity West Kent Mind to increase a sense of wellbeing among its supporters.
Clarion Housing have provided funding to set up the plot, while Foresters UK helped to source and build a shelter at the site.
West Kent Mind began with four large raised beds on the site, where an abundance of fruit, vegetables and flowers were grown last year. They included beetroot, green beans, strawberries, kale, cabbages and giant sunflowers.
One of the keen growers, Lindsey O’Neill, said: “We are a very relaxed group and people can do as little or as much as they like.
“That can be propagating new plants, weeding and digging – or just having a chat and relaxing sit-down in the serene surroundings.
“The hard work and dedication to the project I have seen from our volunteers has been a privilege to bear witness to.”
‘The feeling of connection and the hope that growing something can provide even during very dark times is something that I have a passion for sharing’
Lindsey has found Let’s Grow to be highly beneficial for her sense of wellbeing following the death of her mother two years ago.
“Having suffered the loss of my mum, I can personally attest to the therapeutic power of plants,” she said.
“The feeling of connection and the hope that growing something can provide even during very dark times is something that I have a passion for sharing with other people.”
The project has the added bonus of teaching the gardeners how to run an allotment, with its complex crafts of nurturing, tending and, of course, harvesting.
“For me personally, it has been huge learning curve, and my own skills as a grower have improved exponentially, having benefitted from the knowledge of the volunteers who attend,” said Lindsey.
“The project has helped a number of people over the last nine months, giving a space for them to develop their gardening skills. Some have even moved into employment and further training.”
Let’s Grow are now looking to expand further with another site being developed in the village of Shoreham, near Sevenoaks.
The Tonbridge site is open twice a week, on Wednesdays from 9am to 12noon and Fridays
For more information, call 01732 744950, 0r visit westkentmind.org.uk/what-we-offer/allotment-project