AEL’s Allotment scheme is growing strong

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Mayor Cllr Billy Ashe, congratulating everyone at AEL on the recent award by Enterprise NI for Social Enterprise of the Year 2015. INLT 08-626-CON

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Mayor Cllr Billy Ashe, congratulating everyone at AEL on the recent award by Enterprise NI for Social Enterprise of the Year 2015. INLT 08-626-CON

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim has visited Acceptable Enterprises Larne (AEL) to examine the progress of the allotment scheme.

The social enterprise company has 27 allotments in total, 26 of which have been rented out to individuals or community groups.

CEO of AEL David Hunter told the Times that the allotments and polytunnels at the site are part of a two-
phase project.

“The community allotment project has been such a success that we have only one left to rent out,” said David.

“That is the first phase of the project. The second is to put together a market garden to teach our trainees how to grow, propagate and produce their own food.

“They will produce all the crops in the two huge commercial polytunnels which will then be used in our Lunchbox cafe to provide traceable, high-quality and fresh food.

“This will provide training for our students and employment opportunites to help them get into business and growing our own produce also cuts costs for AEL which we can pass onto our cafe customers.”

David is keen to thank the council’s contractors, Earney Contracts Limited, for donating the old flagstones from Larne public realm scheme to AEL.

“This will enable us to put flag stones along the whole route of the poly tunnels so people with mobility issues can access them,” he explained.

Commenting on his visit, Cllr Ashe said: “Allotment gardening can provide a number of benefits to individuals, such as the opportunity to produce a wide range of relatively inexpensive healthy vegetables, whilst at the same time providing physical exercise in the outdoors. It can also create the opportunity to make new friends and provide the chance to socialise with others who enjoy a similar rewarding pastime.

“Allotments can provide a great sense of well-being and give pleasure and satisfaction to people who through their own skills and effort produce their own food and of course in addition allotments are also beneficial to the environment and wildlife generally. Mid & East Antrim Borough Council is committed to improving the quality of life for all the people of Borough through the services it provides including our allotment service.”

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