FAMILIES in Sunderland will benefit from free home-grown fruit and veg, thanks to one Sunderland dad.
Kevin Stoddart, 36, is using his spare time to help the Sunderland Children’s North Centre’s allotment at the Maplewood Centre in Marley Pots.
The allotment had become overgrown during the winter months, but now Kevin is tidying it up and growing fruit and veg for other parents, carers and their little ones to enjoy, as a thank you to the centre.
Sunderland Children’s North Centre uses the allotment during the warmer months for outdoor messy play sessions, to educate the children on gardening and local wildlife.
Kevin, who lives in Red House, said: “I overheard the Children’s Centre staff talking about the allotment needing some attention and I was more than happy to help. I’ve been a keen gardener for over five years now, since I got a home with a garden, and it’s been a love of mine ever since.
“I have a greenhouse and it’s so rewarding to be able to enjoy the fruit and vegetables that I grow myself. Knowing where your food is from and that it’s fresh and additive-free is something that, I think, is really important to be educating our children about.” Kevin has attended the children’s centres for over a year with his two-year-old son, Tyler, and said the centres have been a great support to them both.
He said: “The play sessions the centres offer are great for Tyler. He loves the bouncy castle days and messy play sessions and has made a lot of friends and learned a lot already. For me, it’s been great to meet other parents, especially other dads, so I’m excited that I can start giving something back by working on the allotment.”
Neil Revely, executive director of People Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “The hope is that with Kevin’s gardening passion and expertise that the allotment will become a great place for families to enjoy, especially if we’re able to share the fruits of Kevin’s labours.
“We hope other families in Sunderland will see the allotment and realise how fun, educational and rewarding gardening can be.”
Kevin said: “We have a third of the allotment filled with flower seeds and we have lots of fruit and veg planted, and once everything starts developing it’s going to be great to share the fruit and veg with children and their families, to help get them excited about gardening and fresh foods.
“We’re hoping to get some flowers that attract butterflies and bees, and hopefully somewhere we can keep tadpoles so we can get the kids learning about wildlife too.”