Milton Keynes town wins 'outstanding' rating in Britain in Bloom awards
They won the award for growing veg and 'nourishing the community' during the Covid crisis
Stony Stratford in Bloom has once again shot to success in the national finals for the Britain in Bloom awards.
The group was one of only four in the country to be awarded 'Outstanding' for the Nourishing the Community Award.
Members sprang into action during the Covid pandemic to grow vegetables and fruit in the York House Community Gardens and deliver them to the King's Foodbank in Wolverton to help feed hungry families.
They've been able to hand over big boxes of produce regularly throughout the season last year and this year. And they're still going at the moment with potatoes, onions, courgettes, raspberries and chard.
In the Regional category, Stony Stratford in Bloom (SSIB) also gained Certificates of Excellence for 'Responding to Covid; Pride of Place; Encouraging Young People to Grow and Conservation and Wildlife'.
Last summer the members joined forced with the town's St Mary and St Giles School, where head Kate Holland was keen for pupils to get involved in gardening and veg growing for the foodbank.
SSIB volunteers set to work and the school's vegetable plots and the polytunnel were soon flourishing.
Meanwhile, the members continued to work on the York House project, which began during at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.
SSIB spokesman Judith Deveson said: "Our volunteers wanted to do something to help those in need, and asked the trustees of York House Community Gardens if we could grow vegetables for the foodbank in the beds that were lying idle.
"They were enthusiastic and the veg-growing project began. We prepared the ground, sowed seeds in the polytunnel, then local allotmenteers donated more seedlings and soon volunteers were planting out the seedlings for a whole variety of vegetables.
"The project was more successful than we’d ever dreamed, and by early summer we were able to give mounds of vegetables and fruit each week to the King’s Foodbank in Wolverton, which distributes fresh produce to those in need.
Judith added: "Andy from the foodbank told us that demand for the Foodbank produce grew astronomically in the pandemic."
Determined to continue the project this year, SSIB was two grants by MK Community Foundation to buy manure, compost, tools, netting and other supplies.
"Once again from early summer we’ve been able to deliver boxes of healthy fresh produce to the King’s Foodbank on a weekly basis," said Judith.
Last month, the volunteers efforts at the school and the community centre caught the eye of the Royal Horticultural Society , whose community outreach office asked if they could visit with a photographer to capture the success story for their publications.
Now all the group's efforts have been further reward with the accolades from Britain in Bloom.
York House Community Gardens also won its own a Certificate of Excellence, as did Mary Robinson's North end Pond and Wildlife area and the Fullers Slade It's Your Neighbourhood group.
The recently formed Galley Hill It's Your Neighbourhood gained a Certificate of Achievement too.
"The community spirit is definitely alive and well in Stony Stratford - so important in these difficult times!" said Judith.
Stony Stratford in Bloom has won a string of awards from Britain in Bloom over the years.
The group was formed in 2007 as a project to bring the whole community together to make Stony Stratford, Galley Hill and Fullers Slade as beautiful as they can be.
It holds regular working working parties for volunteers on Saturdays and Wednesdays. For more details see here.