Date: 
Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 17:00

People and Gardens, a project where people with learning disabilities and mental health issues grow and sell produce, has launch a new metal collection scheme to help fund a new packing shed.

The project, which sells fortnightly bags of vegetables from its base at the Eden Project’s Watering Lane Nursery near Pentewan, has teamed up with the St. Austell branch of Tesco and Luxulyan-based scrap processing merchant Henry Orchard and Sons to help raise the funds.

People who have scrap metal they’d like to donate can drop it off at a collection point in Tesco. Staff from Henry Orchard and Sons will then collect it, recycle it and donate the proceeds to People and Gardens.

People and Gardens are aiming to raise £14,000 by the end of the summer. This will pay for new packing and storage sheds, all the equipment needed to go inside them and all the requisite safety clothing.

Emma Paylor of People and Gardens said: “This new infrastructure will enable us to expand our capacity and increase the number of customers whom we can supply.  It will allow us to diversify into other exciting horticultural projects such as growing gourmet mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds.

“We exist to offer employment and fulfilling activity to our group members, an opportunity that is often denied the disadvantaged and all profits are invested back into the scheme. We are grateful to Tesco and Henry Orchard in offering us this amazing opportunity to achieve this next milestone in our project.”

Henry Orchard, managing director of Henry Orchard and Sons, said: "People and Gardens is a fantastic organisation that makes a real difference to people's lives. We're very happy to be able to help by collecting and recycling donated scrap metal.

"Hopefully the people of St Austell and the surrounding areas will find enough scrap for the project to raise the money for the new packing shed."

People and Gardens is a Community Interest Company and any profit that it makes is invested back into the scheme. Currently nearly 30 local people attend the scheme, all with learning disabilities or emotional impairments. They are involved in the full cycle of growing and selling vegetables, from sowing seeds to packing the bags for more than 60 customers.

People and Gardens has been running for 14 years and the horticulture skills of the team have developed so much that the group now supplies the Eden Project’s kitchens as well as customers of its vegetable bag scheme.

The People and Gardens supported work project aims to enable participants - whose lives have been affected by mental and physical challenges ranging from autism to Down's syndrome - to play a greater role in their communities.

The ultimate aim of the group is to enable people to take control over their own lives and find employment. People and Gardens works closely and in partnership with the Eden Project and the vegetable bag scheme was started to create jobs, providing real work for real pay for some of the participants.

People and Gardens was established by Ken Radford and in that time he and his team have helped more than 150 people make real improvements in their lives through learning horticultural skills and growing food for Eden’s restaurants and cafes. Some of the participants go on to live independently, to study and to find jobs.

To find out more about People and Gardens, go to: http://www.peopleandgardens.co.uk/