A Larne-based social enterprise company is planning to establish 160 community allotments in the town next year.
Acceptable Enterprises Larne (AEL), a service and manufacturing business which makes parts, accessories and components for a wide range of industries, intends to transform a patch of derelict land behind its Centre Point premises on Pound Street into raised allotments.
The scheme aims to tackle local unemployment and help disadvantaged people, such as those with mental health issues.
Funding to the tune of £114,000 had been sought from the Social Investment Fund (SIF), but AEL’s application was unsuccessful.
Undeterred, the company put together plans for a reduced scheme at a cost of £42,000, and has been successful in obtaining a cocktail of funding from three different sources.
David Hunter, CEO of AEL told the Times: “I am delighted to announce that we have received offers of funding from Ulster Garden Villages, Garfield Weston and the NGO Challenge Fund.
“This scheme aims to provide clients with the opportunity to engage in regular, structured forms of outdoor activity.
“This in many ways resembles employment; working as a team, task setting, turning up on time receiving and giving instruction.
“As a result, self confidence, self motivation and self esteem are all given a boost. Such benefits are vital to people as they seek to find employment.”
Mr Hunter also said the project would help people who suffer from poor mental or physical health.
He added: “There is an abundance of evidence to show that allotment-based activity provides physical and psychological benefits from those that become involved.
“The derelict site is also a hotspot for anti-social behaviour, and so redevelopment will provide a positive shared space for the community.”
It is envisaged that the allotments will be used by a mixture of community groups and individuals.
AEL hopes the scheme will be completed by the end of March, 2015.
The company is now calling for people to come forward and register their interest.
“Allotments will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis,” Mr Hunter concluded.
AEL is also seeking volunteers to establish a committee that will oversee the running of the project.
Anyone who would be interested is asked to contacting Laura Steele at AEL on 028 2827 4992.