A Larne-based social enterprise company is preparing to open almost 30 community allotments in the town next month.
Acceptable Enterprises Larne (AEL), a service and manufacturing business which makes parts, accessories and components for a wide range of industries, has transformed a patch of derelict land behind its Centre Point premises on Pound Street into raised allotments.
The £42,000 scheme, funded by a variety of sources, aims to tackle local unemployment and help disadvantaged people, such as those with mental health issues.
David Hunter, CEO of AEL told the Times that the allotments will be used by a mixture of individuals and community groups.
He added: “We are renting out 25 allotments, and a further two will be given away for free to community groups.
“This is only phase one of the project, as we also have plans to create a further 12 allotments with a market garden and poly tunnels.
“It is envisaged that phase two will cost in the region of £15,000 and we are current trying to source funding.”
Mr Hunter said the allotments project was designed to give clients the opportunity to engage in regular, structured forms of outdoor activity, which 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,” he added.
Mr Hunter also claimed the project would have a positive impact on people who suffer from poor mental or physical health.
Ten allotments are still available for rent, and anyone who would like to register their interest in taking a plot can contact Laura Steele on 028 2827 4992. Community groups interested in making use of the free allotments are also urged to get in touch.
“It is hoped that phase one will be up and running by early June, and I would like to see the whole the whole project completed by the end of the year,” Mr Hunter concluded.