BARE concrete gardens in a densely-populated area of Swansea are being transformed into mini-allotments.

And the group behind the Uplands and Brynmill project would like more householders to offer up their unused space.

Uplands councillors have been so taken with the work that they have contributed from their community budgets.

Angie Bettany and Mike Scott at one of the gardens in Uplands which The Room To Grow Project has transformed Pic by Richard Youle

Local resident Mike Scott came up with the idea, and it has blossomed since the coronavirus lockdown and subsequent restrictions.

The Room to To Grow Project has a team of volunteers who install raised beds in front gardens to grow things like corn, beetroot, courgette, cauliflower tomato and salad.

Flowers and herbs are also sown to encourage bees and other pollinators.

It’s small-scale for now, but the group wants to transform scores of front gardens on King Edward Road, Rhyddings Park Road and Gwydr Crescent to create a green corridor from Brynmill to Uplands.

The area has a large number of rental properties and students, but also owner-occupiers.

Mike, who lives in the area and whose great-grandfather was a fruit and veg seller, said: “We are surrounded by empty gardens – it just seemed a great opportunity to start growing something valuable.”

The Room to To Grow Project is keen that many people in the community buy into the idea and consider offering up their space. It could be elderly homeowners who lack mobility but enjoy a bit of greenery, time-pressed working families, or student landlords.

And they don’t have to maintain the planters and raised beds because of the willing volunteers.

A driving force has been Brynmill resident and Hoogah Cafe co-owner, Angie Bettany.

“Me and Mike teamed up to make it happen,” she said. “It’s fantastic. We’ve had such an amazing community response – over 30 volunteers in the first month.

One of the project volunteers, Becky Young Pic by Mike Scott

“People stop and chat to us when we’re in the gardens.”

The Room To Grow Project has spent £3,000 on tools and other materials for its pilot scheme, which was donated by Cllrs Mary Sherwood and Nick Davies.

It has also raised £1,200 through crowdfunding, with contributions from Cllrs Peter May and Irene Mann, among others.

Organic compost and seedlings have been provided by a local venture called Dirt Deliveries.

Cllr Sherwood said: “The team hopes to share their knowledge on the benefits of growing food organically and without the use of harmful pesticides whilst also inspiring others to start their own food-growing journeys.”

Cllr May said one of The Room To Grow Project gardens has just won the best vegetable section of the Uplands Front Garden Competition.

Angie said part of Hoogah, Brynymor Rd, became a plant nursery during the lockdown, which customers were able to check out when it reopened for takeaway pizza.

She is urging anyone with an unused front garden to get in touch if they like the sound of the scheme.

The plan is for a third of the food grown to go to the volunteers, a third for local people and businesses to buy, and a third for the general community.

Angie, 29, said she was keen the project created its own revenue stream.

She added: “We want it to involve everyone in the community.”

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