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The Garden that Grows Skills and Confidence

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A project to transform an unused plot of land in Sandfields, Port Talbot, into a flourishing community garden is going from strength to strength.

The community garden in the Neath Port Talbot Council Skills and Training Centre at Tir Morfa is now proudly flying a Keep Wales Tidy Green Flag Community Award  – the international mark of a quality park or green space.

It was one of a number of Neath Port Talbot 2018 Green Flag community awards, others going to the Aberavon Community Garden, the Amman Valley Trotting Club, Glyncorrwg Ponds, Riverside Park in Pontardawe and The Lane at Melincrythan while Margam Country Park became one of only six sites in Wales to be accredited as a Green Heritage Site.

Paul Williams, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Operations Manager (Skills and Training) said of Tir Morfa Community Garden’s Green Flag success:

“We are so excited to achieve this prestigious award for the first time. The community garden has quite literally grown from strength to strength over the last two years and we are in the process of developing phase two of the site.

“Our aim was to create a growing space where our young people could grow fruit and vegetables and donate the produce to the local Port Talbot food bank. We achieved this goal last year and are well on the way to donating further produce this year.

“In addition to the food bank element, we now have a number of community groups and schools which have taken over a plot and are gaining new skills, learning about healthy eating and also growing their own produce.

“We are currently developing phase two of the project, in conjunction with Calor Gas where further plots will be available and also a number of raised beds with disabled access.”

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity, Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government. It is judged by green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, environmental management and community involvement.

The Neath Port Talbot local Skills & Training Centre at Tir Morfa work with the Prince’s Trust to deliver personal development programmes designed to help unemployed youngsters aged 16-18 years gain the confidence and skills they need to get them into work.

The community garden is a sustainable community environmental project space for local people – a space which is now having a positive impact on the local community.

The project has been developed to help learners and young people with learn new skills and gain a sense of achievement and to engage with and make a difference to their community as well as supporting disadvantaged groups in the local community.

The community garden won an award presented at Cardiff Museum in November 2017, having been judged the best Prince’s Trust Community Project in Wales.

Many local young people who have worked on the project have been educated in soil preparation and ground preparation and have acquired ground preparation skills, numeracy skills and team working/team building skills.

Being involved in the project helps learners engage with and make a difference to their communities and it also addresses learning barriers, develops self-esteem and offers basic qualifications and work experience, skills for work, education and training for the young people involved – all needed to help stabilise their lives.

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