AN AWARD-winning Solihull charity is celebrating the opening of its community garden in Chelmsley Wood.
Gro-Organic aims to reclaim unused land to provide opportunities for people to improve their mental health by doing gardening.
It has been widely praised for its work cleaning up in the area, giving residents a sense of pride in their community.
Its work ranges from cleaning up school gardens and pitches, to creating lively and attractive community spaces, such as ponds, wildlife reserves and gardens.
The Three Trees Community Garden is its latest project and is known locally as ‘the good mood garden’, the charity says.
Its opening was recently celebrated by Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman and Solihull councillor Karen Grinsell.
Dame Spelman said: “I remember when this was just a bit of wasteland and it was just a twinkle in the eye of those who had the inspiration that this could be turned into a place where people could learn about gardening.
“And just think how many people are now learning skills.”
Gro-Organic’s service users and volunteers hosted a garden party to celebrate the work of the charity and the opening of its new facility.
Charity chiefs said there was fun for everyone, as people made breakfast pizzas on the newly built earth oven.
They praised the garden for enabling people to keep active as well as socialising, learning new skills in gardening, food growing and outdoor cooking.
Chief executive Sarah Gill said: “Our volunteers’ passion to transform local spaces is what drives these wonderful garden transformations. We look forward to opening more community gardens which in turn will create opportunities for local people to make best use of local spaces.”
The work is also supported by funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Active Citizens Fund.
The fund is composed of money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act and is awarded to groups which wish to invest in local community projects.
The Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner, Ashley Bertie, praised the group for engaging with hard-to-reach youngsters in the area.
He added the charity helps youngsters build up skills and experience in number of different trades, such as landscaping, labouring and arts and design.
He said: “It is great to see our Active Citizens funding going towards a project which is making a real difference in the community.
“Gro Organic is a true example of active citizenship and I look forward to seeing how their work develops in the future.”
Operations director Michael Forbes said: “We specialise in the design and building of commercial and domestic landscape gardens, providing a high-calibre service to a range of clients that brings about award-winning transformations to be enjoyed for years to come.
“We have just completed a three-week summer arts college programme for youth offenders between the ages of 14-18.
“All those who took part have earned themselves a qualification at GCSE level.
“Last year we had 94 youth offenders working with us .
“Of those we have placed 25 back into work and at least another 10 back into education or training”.