Press Release 06 Jun 2012

Local MP visits St Helens farm

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Labour MP for St Helens North, Dave Watts, paid a visit to Fir Tree Farm last Wednesday to see the farm shop, cafe and woodland walks it has to offer.

Fir Tree Community Growers received over £80,000 in funding back in 2010 from Local Food, a £57.5 million programme supported by the Big Lottery Fund, which provides funding for projects working to make local food more accessible and affordable to communities.

This not-for-profit social enterprise is based at the farm on a five acre market garden and grows affordable vegetables for local disadvantaged groups. It also provides free training to St Helens residents.

Alan Abbott, Fir Tree Farm Owner, said:

“Dave Watts was really impressed with all the activities at the farm. He saw how we have diversified into allowing full public access on over 100 acres, the planting of woodlands and how we have brought biodiversity back to the farm. He particularly enjoyed watching the barn owl nesting box on the web cam and a cup of tea at the cafe whilst sitting out in the glorious sunshine.”

Jenny Griggs, Fir Tree Community Growers Volunteer Co-ordinator, said:

“This was a great opportunity to show our local MP how farming can engage with its local communities whilst providing social care opportunities. We work with adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and those recovering from trauma and depression. Dave said that he could see how the opportunities we provide are life changing. He also got the opportunity to meet with Sarah Park our volunteer tractor driver and said he would be bringing his grandchildren over to see us.”

Mark Wheddon, Local Food Programme Manager, said:

“Projects like this have a wide and lasting impact on the community and we are delighted to support them. Our scheme is about promoting the benefits of locally-grown food, and this project demonstrates how these can stretch far beyond simply eating more healthily, to giving people new skills, new confidence and a closer connection with their local community.”

For visitor information about the farm please visit

For further information please contact:

Jenny Griggs, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Fir Tree Community Growers: 01744 894284, email:

Annie Bowden, PR & Promotions Officer, Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts Tel: 01636 670105, email:


Editor's Notes

Local Food

is a £57.5 million programme that distributes money from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to a variety of food-related projects to help make locally grown food accessible and affordable. It was developed by a consortium of 15 national environmental organisations, and is managed on their behalf by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT).

RSWT is a registered charity incorporated by Royal charter to promote conservation and manage environmental programmes throughout the UK. It has established management systems for holding and distributing funds totalling more than £20 million a year.

The BIG Lottery Fund

is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding. It is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need, awarding over £4.4 billion to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since 2004.