Saffron Walden volunteers dig deep to help community

Dig-it volunteers spruced up the outside space at the Uttlesford CAB offices in Saffron Walden.

Dig-it volunteers spruced up the outside space at the Uttlesford CAB offices in Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

Volunteers of a unique garden allotment project are digging deep to help the community.

Dig It Community Allotment launched in 2011 and has gone from strength to strength.

The organic project – where volunteers of all ages and abilities get together to grow fresh, organic fruit and veg – aims to bring families together, help those with mental health problems and get unemployed people back into work.

Donations from gardening companies, including Homebase and Ridgeons, have allowed Dig It volunteers to build a small hut at the Saffron Walden allotments, off Crocus Field, complete with small field kitchen and composting toilet.

Gay Veal, from Dig It, said: “Our volunteers come to us for all sorts of reasons. It could be someone who is long-term unemployed and needing a self-esteem boost, or people with mental health issues or education problems.

“On the allotment they get professional help with emotional problems – and it is well known that working in an outdoor environment, with nature, and socialising with people, can be of huge benefit and strengthens communities.

“About 70 per cent of people who come to us either go back to work or move on to a better life. It helps people to learn new skills, be it in design or horticulture, or just getting out and about doing something positive to help with self-esteem – they are all positive feedbacks loops.”

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Dig It’s last two projects have been to spruce up gardens for two charities in the town. Its volunteers helped turn the dark and overgrown outdoor play area of Fairycroft Children’s Centre into a sunny, colourful productive area, including raised flower beds for the children to learn to dig plants and grow flowers.

The group also recently completed a project to liven up two unkempt areas of Uttlesford Citizens Advice’s offices in Barnards Yard.

They cleared a densely overgrown back garden and turned it into a calming, low maintenance and nature-friendly space for staff and volunteers, while also creating a welcoming border at the front for clients – with the aim of allowing clients to help themselves to herbs and tomatoes.

Kate Robson, manager at Uttlesford CAB, was delighted to see the office space transformed, and added: “A huge thank you from staff and volunteers of CAB who can look out of the window and see a pretty, relaxing space. We can’t wait to see clients helping themselves to the herb patch!”

Dig It, which became a registered charity last month, is keen to take on new gardening projects, and welcomes new volunteers.

Call 01799 610504, email or visit the website,