A COMMUNITY food-growing project is encouraging the public to participate in a national initiative.

Grow Hexham, a town council project focused on increasing the amount of food grown locally, is participating in the UK-wide Good to Grow Week organised by food and farming charity, Sustain.

Hexham town councillor Penny Grennan leads the Grow Hexham project, which involves matching local gardeners with unused private gardens and areas of public land to try and make homegrown food accessible to all.

More than 100 community growing spaces will welcome volunteers to get involved in community growing, celebrate the arrival of spring, and advocate for the protection and expansion of community growing spaces from April 22 to April 29.

READ MORE: Project ready to match gardeners with idle gardens for food production

These gardens will invite visitors to meet neighbours, learn new skills, and see how easy it can be to grow food. Activities will range from seed swaps and garden tours to school visits, art exhibitions, panel discussions, and film screenings.  

Cllr Grennan said: "This is a national initiative at the end of the month around growing food. The season is getting going at Grow Hexham and we really support this initiative. If you want to get involved at Grow Hexham, please look at our website."

Lily O’Mara-Adembesa, Good to Grow coordinator, said: “Across the country, the Good to Grow network shows us year after year the enduring value of community food growing in protecting local nature, helping to tackle food insecurity and strengthening community bonds.

"There are so many ways to get involved in your local garden and so many need volunteers to help keep these vital community hubs going. Have a look at our interactive map to see what our amazing gardens have going on in your area during Good to Grow Week."

Sustain is partnering with Incredible Edible’s Right to Grow campaign to advocate for better access to growing spaces, following increasing barriers to land and more than 175,000 people in the UK currently on allotment waiting lists.

Pru Elliott of Incredible Edible said: “Good to Grow week is an opportunity to inspire communities and showcase the social and health benefits of community growing. But those who are inspired to set up new gardens often face serious challenges dealing with red tape and bureaucracy at local authority level. We're calling for a Right to Grow; a change in local authorities' policies to make community growing accessible for many more groups."

Check Good to Grow's interactive map here.