Express & Star

Sanctuary seekers living the good life at Wolverhampton allotments

A group of sanctuary seekers in Wolverhampton are preparing to reap the rewards after cultivating a vibrant area of growth from a wilderness.

Florence enjoys a laugh with Geoff Gooding at Mount Road Allotments

The six friends have worked on three allotment plots at Mount Road Allotments to grow a range of crops, including maize, African and European corn, tomatoes and raspberries.

Now, after taking on the large allotments at Mount Road during lockdown, clearing them up and beginning planting, they are preparing to harvest what they have grown.

Alan Marriott, Florence and Geoff Gooding take a look through the Africa corn

The women, who all come from western and southern Africa, are members of Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary, which offers the culture of hospitality and welcome to asylum seekers and refugees.

The group took on a small allotment at Mount Road two years ago after chairman Alan Marriott found that a number of people at the weekly drop-in sessions were very keen to do gardening and other land work.

He said: “They wanted to do something active, rather than just sit around because they’re not allowed to work at present.

“Our trustee Geoff Gooding made the link with this allotment and it went from there as more people started to get involved.

Blessing and Florence are two of six women who have tended to the allotments and made them vibrant places

“It’s really good for those working here as you don’t know what they have been through, so it gives them a chance to feel normal instead of feeling like a minority that’s hiding away somewhere.”

The women working at the allotment said they had been made to feel welcome by the other allotment holders, with a number asking how they grow plants like maize.

Florence has been living in Wolverhampton since leaving Cameroon more than three years ago and has taken on the role of running the allotments project, as well as growing her own fruit and vegetables.

Zamile and her children enjoy time working on the allotments

The 53-year-old said the allotments were a special place for her, describing it as a type of therapy.

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