THE charity Farms for City Children (FFCC) has been awarded a National Lottery grant of £48,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help restore the Victorian walled kitchen garden at Nethercott House – the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh.

The project will see the historic Grade 2 listed walled kitchen garden returned to its former glory reflecting the character of its 1870s roots. The walls will be repaired, pathways and plots will be redefined, the sunken glass melon house cold frames, forcers and a lean-to greenhouse will be restored, the original structured box and arches and herbaceous will be replanted, additional espalier fruit trees will be planted and the garden will be returned to the abundant production of fruit and vegetables for the house.

The garden is a critical part of the charity’s work, being an abundant provider of fruit and vegetables that helps to feed over 1,000 inner city children and 124 teachers who come to stay as ‘farmers for a week’ each year.

Children and teachers will play a very active role in the project as part of their stay on the farm, planting and growing fruit and vegetables using traditional methods in this setting. They will be introduced to a wide range of native vegetables which reinforces the importance of seasonality.

In addition to the visiting children from across the UK, the local community will also have a chance to volunteer and be part of the restoration project as the charity will also be opening the garden to the public and hosting visits from local schools and groups.

Tim Rose, farms school manager at Nethercott House said: ‘We are really looking forward to sharing the project with the local community, some of whom have already been so helpful in volunteering and sharing their memories of the garden when it was a private house.

‘With open days and plenty of further opportunities to volunteer, we believe it will be a real asset for the area.’

The project has also been supported by a range of organisations and individuals including the team at RHS Rosemoor, the Devon Gardens Trust and Tom Petherick (the celebrated author, broadcaster and restorer of the Lost Garden of Heligan).

Perennial (the Gardener’s Royal Benevolent Society) has also offered significant funding to match the funding raised by National Lottery players.

Paul Courtney, development director of FFCC said: ‘We are enormously grateful for the generous support of the National Lottery for approving our application and to all of our partner funders and supporters who have helped make this project a reality.

‘In addition to the money they have given and pledged, their invaluable insight, knowledge, experience and wisdom means that the walled garden will become a real living heritage asset for visiting children and the local community for many years to come.’

Nerys Watts, head of HLF South West, said: ‘Thanks to National Lottery players an historic part of the FFCC founding farm will be restored as a key part of the charity’s future.

‘Children and teachers will be at the heart of the project, providing some fantastic opportunities to explore heritage, learn traditional skills and create a sustainable source of food for their visits.’

The charity is now looking for volunteers to help tend to the walled garden. FFCC is looking for people who enjoy gardening and have a few hours to spare each week. People who are enthusiastic, enjoy plenty of fresh air and mixing with like-minded people are being urged to come forward.

The organisation is holding an open day at Nethercott House on Monday, April 9 at 10.30am, with potential volunteers welcomed for a chat and a cuppa about how they can make a real difference.

For further details, call Mike on 01837 810025.