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Older tenants are going green to grow food and help the planet

Green-fingered tenants are digging deep and growing their own food in communities – to help cut food miles and enjoy a new hobby.

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Older people living in Wheatley Group’s Livingwell communities have been busy in communal gardens across Glasgow, growing fruit and vegetables and sharing the produce with neighbours.

Livingwell is Wheatley’s service for people over the age of 55, which brings together homes designed for the needs of older tenants, along with support and activities to live life to the full.

Wheatley has supported gardening groups throughout the city by installing raised beds, helping source planters and seeds – and is to install new greenhouses at nine Livingwell sites.

The greenhouses will help tenants keep growing through the winter and plant a wider variety of fruit and vegetables. By growing their own food, it reduces air miles for imported goods, helps tenants save money and live more sustainably.

Mary McAveary, 71 from Lourdes Court in Cardonald, said she “got lucky” with her crop of new potatoes.

She said: “I just put some old potatoes that had sprouted into the ground, and I was quite surprised when they came up. We all got some and there was a wee queue when we gave them out to neighbours.”

She added: “My husband passed away and the garden gave me an outlet to pass the time rather than dwell on things. I like being outside and I like learning something new.”

Tenant Hugh McFarlane, 65, has been spearheading the grow your own efforts at Marfield in Carntyne.

He has grown crops including potatoes, carrots, strawberries and peas – and shared the produce with his neighbours to make soup. He now has his sights set on planting spring vegetables to grow in the plot over the winter.

He said: “Wheatley put a raised bed in the outdoor space, so we decided to try and grow our own. I’m no gardening expert, but I like learning and it gives us all something to do.

“Last year we had a great crop and made lots of soup to share. I’m trying to find out more about gardening so we can keep growing over the winter.”

Wheatley Group’s Livingwell lead, Melissa Campbell, said: “Supporting our customers to grow their own food is a great way for people to get outside, meet their neighbours and help the environment at the same time. It is great to hear how our tenants are leading greener lives, enjoying the health benefits of really fresh produce and most importantly have fun together.”

Livingwell’s gardening clubs are another way that Wheatley, is driving the green agenda in homes and communities throughout Scotland.

The Group is investing £100m on sustainability initiatives over the next five years as part of its ‘Greener Homes, Greener Lives’ campaign as Glasgow gets ready to host COP26.

Stephen Devine, Wheatley’s Director of Assets and Sustainability, said: “We want to inspire our staff and the communities we serve to help us meet climate commitments and reduce carbon emissions. 

“Wheatley’s commitment to sustainability is already making homes and lives better – and it is great to hear how tenants like Mary and Hugh are leading the charge in their communities.”

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