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Now everything in the charity’s garden is rosy

IT’S PLANTING time at Camphill MK as a new horticultural project gets under way.

Residents at the charity work their allotments every day, growing fruit and vegetables to feed more than 500 people a week. And their efforts have received a major boost thanks to Socius, the mixed-use developer behind the MK Gateway project to transform the former Saxon Court building in the city centre.

As it prepares to begin work on the £190 million project that will turn the former Milton Keynes Council offices into 288 apartments, workspace, a gym, an innovation hub, independent food, drink, leisure and retail, Socius has been seeking new homes for the hundreds of plants housed in the atrium.

And, after hearing about Camphill MK’s work with adults with learning disabilities, Socius, its investment partner Patron Capital and Milton Keynes City Council, arranged for the redundant irrigation system at Saxon Court to be removed and installed in the raised beds at Camphill MK.

“It has been important to us that we rehome and recycle as many items from Saxon Court as possible and the donation of the irrigation system to Camphill MK is a great example of this,” says Socius director Steve Eccles pictured top.

The allotments are expanding into a nearby paddock and will soon boast polytunnels, raised beds, sensory gardens and an edible forest. The produce grown at Camphill MK, which supports people with learning disabilities, goes to residents and staff and supplies Camphill MK’s on-site vegetarian Café, which welcomes around 300 visitors a week.

“There is a wealth of clinical research evidence linking positive mental health outcomes with a balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables and the risk of dementia can be significantly reduced through healthy eating,” says Camphill MK’s chief executive Tim Davies. “So it is vital that we provide healthy dishes grown without pesticides and with minimal – in fact, zero – food miles. Working in the garden is a wonderful physical activity benefiting our residents in so many ways.”

Camphill MK runs gardening workshops for up to 24 residents, who use gardening and horticulture as part of their personal development.

“Socius are advocates for sustainable development,” Mr Eccles says on a visit to the charity. “It was wonderful to visit the site and meet people from the community, see the allotments and paddock and try some of the produce.”

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