Children and families in County Durham are getting their hands dirty over the summer by growing their own fruit and vegetables.

Growing Healthy County Durham, which provides NHS Healthy Child Programme services in the county, has a Family Initiative Supporting Children’s Health (FISCH) team to help promote healthy eating and healthier lifestyles, part of which includes planting and growing produce.

The project is supported by Growing Durham, an initiative hosted by Durham Community Action to support people and groups who want to grow their own food.

The FISCH Team’s project aims to educate families on where their food comes from and how it is grown. It also offers the opportunity for them to grow their own – with families being encouraged to eat and cook with the produce they have grown. The produce planted so far this year includes tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beetroot and broccoli. Once grown, the Team provide families with healthy recipes and ideas for how best to use their vegetables.

The project started last year and has been a success ever since, with both children and families getting on-board with the initiative. The allotment, which is in Willington near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, was loaned to the team by the Rosedale and Victoria Allotment Association for use when the project was launched.

Amanda Dobson, School Nurse, and Joanne Dodds, Community Health Assistant, in the Growing Healthy County Durham FISCH Team, said: “We have been working with families to help them achieve healthier lifestyles and our allotment project does just that.

“The project is really important to educate children and their families on where their food comes from and so far, the children and their families have been really engaged.

“Each family has a different theme for their own patch and the families decide what to grow to fit that theme – it has been a really positive initiative.”

The Growing Healthy County Durham 5-19 Healthy Child team is part of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and promotes and protects the health and wellbeing of all children and young people. The service works with children, young people and families to empower and enable them to make informed decisions about health, and to support them in transitioning safely and happily into adult life.

Pictured: Families maintaining the allotment as part of the project.