Project misses out on grant but creator hopes TV appearance will raise profile

Andover Advertiser: ITV's Richard Slee interviews Jason Austin, eight ITV's Richard Slee interviews Jason Austin, eight

A BASINGSTOKE project missed out on the chance to win £50,000 – but its creator is hoping its raised profile will help it to thrive in the future.

TV cameras filmed families from Inspero Love2Grow:Love2Cook at the group’s community garden, in Bardwell Close, South Ham, and at Aldworth School, in Western Way, South Ham, for ITV People’s Millions awards.

The footage was broadcast on Meridian Tonight on November 27, showcasing the work of the not-for-profit organisation.

The project was set up 18 months ago and supports young people and families in disadvantaged areas to grow, nurture, harvest, prepare and cook seasonal food.

It was chosen as a finalist in ITV’s People’s Millions awards, and was up against DIG-IT, run by Boveridge House School, in Dorset, which wants to create a horticultural service where students can develop their gardening skills.

Unfortunately, Inspero missed out on the prize money from The Big Lottery Fund following a public phone vote.

But Catherine Waters-Clark, who set up the project, said the children involved in the filming had a “wonderful experience.”

Love2Grow:Love2Cook wanted to use the money to expand its services and create a community hub and growing site, where residents can volunteer, share recipes, gain cooking skills and buy affordable local home grown food. It would have also been used to create three part-time jobs and develop a second community garden in Kempshott.

Mrs Waters-Clark said: “I am absolutely gutted for our kids and parents that we didn’t win.”

But she added: “Hopefully, a lot more people in Basingstoke should now know who we are, and even being an ITV People’s Millions finalist is a big achievement.”

She plans to develop the community food growing scheme and Kempshott site in 2014, and said: “This scheme will support young people and adult volunteers to learn and share food growing and cooking skills, and will develop a community resource to share recipes, swap seeds and provide local young people with work experience and access to fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs via the new growing plots.”

Mrs Waters-Clark set up the project after struggling to encourage her son to eat vegetables.

The organisation now has six volunteers who work with around 55 families from the area, planting vegetables at the community garden before harvesting them and turning them into delicious meals.

Mrs Waters-Clark, a mother-of-three, from South Ham, who works for the Shaw Trust, in Basingstoke, said: “The importance of this project is increasing life skills and cooking skills. Kids are learning how to grow food and their attitudes towards healthy eating changes. Some of them don’t know some of the vegetables we grow.”

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