An innovative green-fingered project to help local residents in Hexham get more from their gardens and community land has won a regional award.
The 'Green Spaces' scheme on the Hexham East estate, has jointly won the Social and Community prize in the Action for Market Towns (AMT) awards scheme.
A significant part of the Green Spaces scheme has been the work based at the 'No.28' community house on the estate, which is funded by Isos and Northumberland County Council.
No.28 is the home of the Hexham East Regeneration Project, and has been the hub for members of the local community to work alongside a host of local organisations and community groups to improve the environment of their estate.
Community gardens have been set up at No.28 itself, Hexham East First School/Hexham Children's Centre and Hexham Middle School whilst the Hexham East Residents' Association has completed a number of work days, cleaning up the estate and planting hundreds of bulbs.
Together they are demonstrating low-cost ways to grow food, encourage wildlife, manage a garden and learn new skills.
Beyond the growing of fruit and vegetables and planting of bulbs, No.28 has also provided cooking classes. Many residents have enjoyed the produce, which has been shared out between gardeners and visitors to the house, with some donations to help buy more plants and seeds.
The judges heaped praise on the achievements of Hexham East Green Spaces.
One of the key points raised was that the scheme was quite innovative for a market town in being targeted at a demonstrably disadvantaged area.
The judges said: "The project perfectly complements the other activities from the community house in Hexham East and it hits not only the community but health, low income and low-carbon agendas too. It is very much community based, community led and very transferable.
"Even where other towns don't have a community garden to develop there are often areas of unkempt land."
Hexham East regeneration officer Grace Burke said: "The support for this project has been fantastic. We knew what we were doing was making a difference in Hexham East, but to win an award for best practice has been the icing on the cake.
"Everyone who has been involved should feel very proud, and I want to thank them for everything they have done to make the project a success."
Chris Wade, the chief executive of Action for Market Towns (AMT) said: "The quality and quantity of entries for these awards shows that the Big Society is flourishing in many small towns across the north of England as communities show the spirit of self-reliance.
"AMT Awards help celebrate and share good ideas across the country and include planned events where winners will showcase their talents."