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Charity to set up Stoke On Trent urban farm

A former Stoke On Trent golf course is set to be transformed into a community market garden.

Charity the Urbivore Foundation is taking over the Parkhall Golf Course to grow produce, and rear sheep and chickens for meat and eggs.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has granted a community asset transfer to the Foundation on a 25-year lease for agricultural use. 

Over five years, it is estimated more than 230 tonnes of fruit, vegetables and other produce could be grown at the site.

It would be sold on, and funds reinvested in the community.

The scheme could create a total of five jobs, 26 apprenticeships, 55 mentoring and volunteering roles for over 50s and work placement and training opportunities for long-term unemployed. 

Councillor Andy Platt, cabinet member for green enterprises and clean city, said: "Development of an urban farm is an innovative approach to make use of vacant and disused council land to diversify the local economy to producing organic food produce which brings positive health outcomes for local communities.

"It fits perfectly with our Mandate for Change, making Stoke-on-Trent a great place to live and promoting independent and healthy lives.

"The reality is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for councils to continue to fund maintenance of vacant green spaces and assets.” 

Urbivore’s business plan seeks to raise £2 million grant funding over the next two years. 

Urbivore chief executive Rowena Young said: "One thing Stoke-on-Trent has in spades is green space and good will and we’re very excited to be working with the city council on this project.

"We believe we can help improve the city's health with a ready and affordable supply of fresh produce, but we can also use trade to create new opportunities for those whose futures look bleakest.  

"Our apprenticeships and internships are designed to help long-term unemployed young people to discover a passion for work outdoors and systematically overcome the barriers they face.

"Our food and growing programmes enable households struggling with obesity, poor health, and often anxiety and depression, to bring meaning, pleasure and well-being back to their daily routines.  

"If there's one thing we've all learned from the recession, it's that no-one is handing out opportunities on a plate. So our message is, come and get involved.”

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