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Potter’s Den Torfaen- The name of the new community allotment being built in Oakfield

a group of people sat in wooden garden pagoda

An event was held this week to celebrate the progress being made to turn a disused plot of land in Oakfield into a community allotment.

In April, the council approved planning permission on the Bron Afon-owned land, behind houses on East Road, The Highway and South Road in Oakfield. Bron Afon is leasing it to United Response, a charity whose aim is “to ensure that individuals with learning disabilities, mental or physical support needs have the opportunity to live their lives to the full.”

Natasha Asghar MS, who represents South East Wales at the Welsh Parliament, visited on Monday to meet the people behind the project and the volunteers who will benefit from growing food at the site.

Norma Jaggon-Barrett, United Response project manager for the allotment and garden, said: “The area provides an opportunity for meaningful and fulfilling work as well as a place to socialise, contribute and work as a team. The project is using the blueprint from the charity’s well-established Potter’s Den project in Bristol and will ultimately be known as Potter’s Den Torfaen. The fruit and vegetables grown by people supported by United Response and community volunteers will be shared with the local school as part of the school’s food bank initiative. There is a strong desire from the people we support to give something back to their community and our team is excited to help our people achieve this.”

five women stood by a banner in a community allotment
Natasha Asghar MS (second left) with staff from some of the organisations creating the site (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

Natasha Asghar MS said: “This is a wonderful project and I am so pleased to have visited it at this early stage and met the team who are, understandably, so enthusiastic about the opportunities it provides. I can see how it will enrich many lives and benefit the community in many ways. I look forward to visiting again and seeing all the beds brimming with vegetables and the orchard, which is part of the plan, bearing fruit!”

Catherine Love, director of customer experience at Bron Afon, said: “We’re really keen to start using the spaces that we’ve got across the borough to build more community opportunities and interactions, and this is obviously a fantastic site where people can really get involved, get their hands dirty and actually grow food and vegetables, fruit, and herbs that can go back out into the community. And some of those projects are going to be really important. There will be food boxes that will be distributed via schools, which I think they are really keen for and we’ve also got the idea of having multi-generational team events down here as well.”

Cllr Alan Slade, Llantarnam Ward, said they were waiting to hear on a couple of “big” grants that would see further improvements and additions to the site. He told Cwmbran Life he gave a talk about the garden to pupils at Llantarnam Community Primary School: “They’ve got a project called Big Bocs Bwyd at the school where they grow vegetables and sell them in the school and shop for what people can afford to pay. We’re hoping, when we’ve got stuff to sell we can take it to the school. The kids are going to come up and visit shortly and hopefully, they’re going to try and arrange a visit to Bristol (to Potters Den) to see it up and running properly. It’s exciting because we do want to tie the local groups together, but until we make a little bit more progress we’re not really in a position to do that, but yes the kids are really excited.”

Video of Natasha Asghar MS, regional member of the Senedd for south east Wales

Volunteer at the garden

If you’re a keen gardener who would like to help for from a business that could help by volunteering staff or making a donation please email  Norma.JaggonBarrett@unitedresponse.org.uk

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Potter’s Den Torfaen- The name of the new community allotment being built in Oakfield