Plans for a new community garden and allotment for young people aged 14-19 who are not in education, employment or training have been revealed, and everyone in Liverpool has the chance to vote to make sure it gets enough funding to grow and flourish.

The South Liverpool Urban Garden (or ‘SLUG’) will be a community allotment tended by young people who aren’t in the educational system or employment and are currently involved with Garston-based social enterprise Employability Solutions. All the food grown on the allotment will be used in the company’s community café, ‘Can Teen’, which serves free meals to local people cooked by young trainee chefs.

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The SLUG is one of several regional projects that has been accepted on to Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, in which proceeds from the sale of 5p bags are used to support revolutionary community projects. The initiative is being carried out in partnership with Groundwork UK. Customers can vote for the community project of their choice at local stores to divert more funding towards their favourite development.

Another incredibly worthy campaign also in the scheme is “Blue-Green Liverpool” – an initiative to get our city green again. They plan to create horticultural therapy growing spaces for city centre organisations, plant fruit trees on walking routes to schools, support food-based social enterprises and generally make our city more green. A campaign that will do so much more for the city than improve the aesthetics.

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We caught up with Claire Cook, chief executive of Employability Solutions, who said:

“The idea for the SLUG is something that came about after the huge success of Can Teen, our community café that helps young people become qualified chefs whilst bringing the community together and fighting urban food poverty. The teenagers had the idea of bringing community food one step further, by actually growing the produce used in the café themselves. Some of our young people are learning how to tend fruit and vegetables from local farmers, and are really getting into it. The SLUG is going to give young people who have fallen out of the school system something positive and meaningful to do, whilst also providing a safe and vibrant community space.”

Employability solutions help NEETs (young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training) get their lives back on track and get involved in constructive community projects that lead to employment. Employability Solutions will use the grant to renovate the land next to their headquarters into The SLUG and pay towards sessions with expert agriculturists to help the young people learn how to tend fruits and vegetables effectively. The social enterprise hopes to add horticulture to their curriculum, helping to raise the next generation of sustainable horticulturists.

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I bet you never thought you’d hear us say this but visit your local Tesco stores to cast your vote. The money is there and in the right person’s hands could be used to make city blossom even further.