Wigan gardener awarded top prize for best kept allotment

A blossoming garden with fruit and vegetable patches serving up a vast array of produce has landed a Wigan gardener a top prize.
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Jeff Grundy from Bickershaw has landed the James Prescott Trophy for 2023, with most of his green-fingered transformation coming in less than a year.

The retired 69-year-old’s plot used to a bare patch of earth and weeds but now includes pathways through a colourful garden and beds growing tomatoes and cucumbers, beans, lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli, melons, and newly planted apple and pear trees.

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It’s all made it an easy decision for the judges of the James Prescott trophy, which highlights outstanding work by the borough’s allotment tenants.

Jeff and Coun Ready at his allotmentJeff and Coun Ready at his allotment
Jeff and Coun Ready at his allotment

Cabinet portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods Coun Chris Ready said: “We really wanted to recognise the incredible transformation that Jeff has achieved, in such a short space of time.

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“Our allotments are an invaluable asset to our borough and are such a source of joy and physical and mental benefit to our tenants. They are also a great way of likeminded individuals to connect in nature and build a community.

“They are also great for our environment, providing superb habitats for local wildlife and pollinators. And my hat goes off to anyone growing and enjoying their own veg- what a way to know you are eating locally-sourced, in season food.”

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Jeff took on the allotment last September, in a joint tenancy with his daughter when she needed some help to manage the site.

He said: “I retired a couple of years ago and getting involved in the allotment has been really rewarding.

“I’ve always been an active person – I’ve been working my way through the Wainwright walks in the Lake District for the last 18 months or so – and the allotment has been another challenge.

“It’s hard work, but I’ve found it relaxing to be out in nature.

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"The process of planning, planting and caring for my plot has also been really mentally stimulating, and seeing your ideas literally come to life and start growing is great.

“We’re now at the best time of year- where you get to harvest and enjoy what you’ve grown and my family and friends have been enjoying it too.

“Having my work and what I’ve managed so far recognised with the trophy really is appreciated.

"I’m 69 now and hadn’t done loads of gardening before- so this has definitely been a learning curve, and I’m looking forward to getting better and better as time goes on.”

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The James Prescott Trophy is named after a keen Leigh gardener who donated the prize to Leigh Borough Council in 1956 to encourage more people to look after their allotments.

It was first presented in 1957, recognising the general condition of plots, their layout and tidiness, the variety of crops grown and their continuity.

Coun Ready added: “The James Prescott Trophy recognises our tenant’s dedication and passion to their allotment, and Jeff is certainly a worthy recipient.

"We are all really looking forward to seeing how the allotment develops in the coming years.”