Aster roots for local community allotment

A group of budding young apprentices and team leaders from local housing association, Aster Group volunteered their time recently to help get a community allotment used by local organisations and charities in Andover back on its feet.

The five apprentices and three team leaders dedicated a day repairing the allotment’s greenhouse, flower beds, growing polly tunnel and shed to get it ready for the growing season ahead. The space will grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and wildflowers and will be used for a variety of uses around mental wellbeing, mindfulness and creativity. One of Aster Groups suppliers, Wolseley Plc sponsored the project by supplying all the materials.  

The allotment is run by a group known as the Allotment Adventurers. James Ropner from Hampshire charity, Two Saints, Christianne Ireland, from volunteering organisation, Unity, Kevin Crean and Dan Hooks from Andover Radio, took the project over from Inclusion Services to create a space for local groups, charities and organisations to use. Two Saints who work with homeless and vulnerable people in need of support will be one of the groups to benefit from the allotment. 

James Ropner, outreach worker from Two Saints was full of praise for the team:  “ Aster, you’ve pulled it off – we can now crack on with getting people up here and involved – Thank you.  You all rock”.

Christianne Ireland, voluntary sector support manager from Unity said: “What a fantastic team of apprentices, not forgetting the team leaders. The laughter at lunch break said it all. Fun was had by all, but more importantly we can now see that the plans for this project can move forward. We can start taking bookings from the local community to use this wonderful space created to help wellbeing. We now have some bookings in the pipeline for the spring from a local Creative Arts Group, which would not have been possible without the help from Aster and Wolseley Plc.”

Wolseley was keen to get involved. Marie Brown, category manager from Wolseley said: ‘‘We welcomed the chance to work more closely with Aster Foundation and help to drive forward an area that is highly important to Aster and the community.  It is a wonderful opportunity to be involved on an activity that will create benefit for many in need and to support groups such as Two Saints with their work.“

Aster supports its employees to volunteer for projects like this one as part of its work with customers and its communities under the Aster Foundation. The Foundation invests in activities and projects which enable local people to improve their own lives, with services and support around financial wellbeing, volunteering, finding work and mental health. 

Cam Kinsella, Aster Foundation director at Aster Group said: “There’s growing evidence that gardening can benefit our mental health. It’s an important consideration at a time when the NHS is stretched and one in four adults are experiencing mental illness. Initiatives like this which truly help our local community to invest in themselves with a little mindful gardening, or taking in the world around them, really are priceless.  It was a privilege to support our local community with this and we too look forward to using the space with our colleagues and customers.”


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