Last April, Huntingdonshire District Council committed an additional £20,000 to the Community Chest Grant Scheme funding pot to provide further financial support to local community organisations and projects, assisting local people in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding has allowed projects to begin up and down the district, providing help and support to local communities that have been impacted by the pandemic.
Hilton Community Garden was one of the successful projects that received a Community Chest Grant. Since April 2021, when they received £1,000 in funding, a lot of progress has been made.
The garden is a place that brings the community together and offers the chance for people of all ages to meet outdoors. It is also a place of tranquillity where people can come and enjoy the quiet and watch birds on the feeders. Produce from the garden is available to the whole community, whether or not they work on the garden. It is also used as a space for those who may feel lonely and for newcomers to the village to make friends.
The garden has a fenced off plot, shed and a circular seating area. Following a garden design made by a committee member, raised beds were swiftly installed on one side of the plot. There is also an area for fruit trees including a pair of cherry trees and underplanted with spring bulbs. A shady area of the plot has been set aside to grow native plants. Near the seating area, there is a bed for herbaceous plants.
Executive Councillor for Community Resilience and Wellbeing, Cllr Simon Bywater, said: "The District Council has always looked to support local communities, through the Community Chest Grant scheme especially during these challenging last couple of years.
"Generosity has not been in short supply throughout Huntingdonshire and the council has stepped in at each opportunity to grant payments of up to £1,000 per project, providing valuable financial support to support a local focus to local issues, identified by local people.
The Hilton Community Garden is a great example of how funding like this is vital across the District as it brings communities together by identifying local issues from residents themselves and allows us to support their local area."
The community garden committee has also organised local events and a working party meet every Saturday morning. Residents of Hilton and families also offer a helping hand. In July 2021, there was an introduction to the garden with a series of activities aimed at children. It consisted of craft making stalls, ‘how-to’ demonstrations for bug-hotels and bird boxes, a tree trail around The Green followed by a planting session with sunflower seeds and lavender plugs at the garden. In October, there was a further Saturday event with more craft tables, pumpkin carving, and a treasure trail.
Chair of Hilton Community Garden, Heather Chambers, said: "I am delighted with the way the garden has progressed in the last year and that so many people have come to visit, relax and to work on the plot.
"It has been a focal point in the village, and I am thrilled that the community fund has enabled this project to be so successful."
Cllr Simon Bywater (R) with residents and members of the Hilton Village Garden Committee