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Volunteers offer advice at the end of the phone to new gardeners

radish plant

HELP is now available at the end of the phone for anyone who’s using their time at home to learn how to grow their own food.

Thanks to national charity The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), rookie gardeners in Leicester will be able to get instant advice from experienced growers on how to make the most of their outdoor space by producing delicious home-grown fruit and vegetables.

With online sales of seeds and gardening equipment soaring as the lockdown continues, it’s clear that many people are discovering the pleasures of gardening for the first time – and TCV’s new service aims to support them on their food-growing journey.

TCV’s senior project officer Samantha Woods said: “We really want people to enjoy growing their own food whilst staying home, but we know that getting started can be the hardest part.

“Our new Garden Chats phone line will help those buying seeds and gardening equipment for the first time to make the best of their new purchases.”

The Garden Chats phone line will not only increase food growing knowledge in Leicester, but it will also provide an invaluable service to those who might be feeling isolated. Gardeners will be able to share their stories with a fellow enthusiast, helping to create a friendly and supportive food-growing community in the city.

Assistant city mayor for public health Cllr Vi Dempster said: “It’s really important that we find positive ways to fill our time while we’re confined to our homes, and gardening is one of the best activities we can do.

“Not only do you have the satisfaction of growing your own food, but you’re also outdoors and keeping active – which is brilliant for your mental health and wellbeing.

“This new Garden Chats phone line will be invaluable for both rookie gardeners and experienced food growers, who will be able to share their gardening stories while supporting each other during these difficult times.”

The Garden Chats phone line has been introduced to replace the charity’s usual face-to-face support, which has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Expert volunteers are at the end of the phone on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am to 12 noon, and from 2pm to 3pm.

Outside these times, people can still access food growing advice by emailing TCV on - or by joining the Leicester Food Growing Facebook page.

New food growers or experienced gardeners can contact the Garden Chats advice line on 0116 271 0178.

TCV’s Community Food Growing Support Programme is funded by Leicester City Council and helps individuals, schools and groups to grow their own food.

The programme – part of the city council’s Food Plan – has been providing fund-raising and growing advice to schools and community groups for the last two years and now supports more than 500 growers around the city.