Wales

Green Flag for Bridgend mum's allotment vision

Allotmentiers get busy at Badgers Brook Image copyright Lisa Lewis
Image caption Badgers Brook in Brackla is one of the new community Green Flag Award winners

As a mother of three young boys, Lisa Lewis knew she wanted them to grow up appreciating real food.

Her solution? She applied for a council allotment to grow it herself.

But it did not stop there - within the space of four years she has turned 16 plots into 40, reclaimed a fly-tipped wasteland and opened it up to those with disabilities.

Now the site in Bridgend is one of 201 named as new Green Flag Award winners.

"I'm really chuffed," said Mrs Lewis.

"It's so nice - we've got a fabulous community on site. We all work together as a little group to make it happen."

Image copyright Lisa Lewis
Image caption Lisa Lewis is proud of the whole project - and those who have made it happen

When she first arrived at the Badgers Brook Allotments in Brackla she was less than impressed with what she found.

"It was a really rundown site. Sat in front of it was large piece of derelict land that had been used for storage during house building.

"It was just strewn with stuff - sofas, old televisions, discarded shoes and clothes - it was a proper eyesore."

She got in touch with Bridgend council and discovered they owned the land, and persuaded them to sign it over to her and the allotments.

Image copyright Lisa Lewis
Image caption Fun for Kamran, Kaydan and Levi - as they climb a mountain of compost

Then the transformation began. The land was cleared, kerbs and paths were put in and a new green space in the village began to emerge.

"I wanted it to be accessible to those who had disabilities, who might otherwise spend the day stuck at home," said the allotmenteer.

She won support from other groups, such as the disability charity Cartrefi Cymru, and watched the site blossom.

"It's not just an allotment - it's a community," added Mrs Lewis.

And her three boys, Kamran, Kaydan and Levi - now six - love nothing more than tending their own bed in their mother's plot. Mrs Lewis added: "They love it - they grow their own food - they've even got chickens now."

The allotments are one of just over 100 green spaces across Wales handed a community Green Flag Award on Monday, for those areas maintained and run by volunteers.

The flags recognise green spaces that meet the highest standards for horticultural, cleanliness, environmental management and community involvement.

Image copyright Keep Wales Tidy
Image caption Cardiff's Heath Park gets its first Green Flag this year

A further 89 full awards have been made to larger parks, gardens and woodlands owned by councils and trusts.

Cardiff tops the list for awards with 25 flags, including a new flag for the city's Heath Park.

Among other first time recipients are Aberdare Park, Swansea University's Bay Campus, and Wrexham Cemetery.

Glanrhyd Hospital in Bridgend also becomes the first hospital in Wales to achieve Green Flag status.

Image copyright Keep Wales Tidy
Image caption A lean, green, gardening machine - some of the team that has helped Glanrhyd Hospital become the first hospital to get a Green Flag

Lucy Prisk, from Keep Wales Tidy who present the awards, said: "The 201 flags flying are a testament to the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers across the country who work tirelessly to maintain Green Flag Award standards.

"I'd encourage everyone to get outdoors this summer and enjoy the incredible parks and green spaces we have on our doorstep."

Image copyright Keep Wales Tidy
Image caption Green spaces for learning: Swansea University's Bay campus is a first-time winner

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