MEMBERS of Pontygwindy allotments in Caerphilly want to build a horticultural education and wellbeing centre for the whole community.

Nicola Coombes said the allotments have been in the town for over 100 years, and now she and other plot holders want it to be a place everyone can enjoy.

Ms Coombes, who is secretary of the Pontygwindy Allotments Association, said: “We really want this to be something for the community, and for the allotments to play an educational role.

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Pontygwindy Allotments

“Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili has now got a plot with us and it’s important for all children to see how things are grown and where they come from.”

According to the planning application submitted to Caerphilly County Borough Council, the centre will be built on ground which is not suitable for growing. This area is currently home to a gazebo and a few tables and chairs for the gardeners to use.

Plot holder Ross Williams said he started gardening at the allotments following his retirement as a firefighter.

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Ross Williams

Mr Williams, who has been growing vegetables such as aubergines, cucumbers and chillies on his plot for just over a year, said: “I’m not one of those people that can just sit in front of the TV – I have to be up and about doing something.

“Growing something from a seed and then taking it home and having it for your lunch is amazing. It gives you a sense of achievement, it’s definitely a form of therapy.”

Ian Stone has had a plot at the allotments for more than 15 years and now his wife, Leanne, also has a plot.

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The Pontygwindy Allotments Association

Mr Stone said: “You come over here for a coffee and then you check your watch and it’s 10pm. It really is a social place.”

Pontygwindy Allotments Association hosts breakfast clubs and coffee mornings on weekends to give anyone in the community the opportunity to socialise outside. Leanne Stone said the allotments have become a “sanctuary” for some plot holders.

Ms Stone started gardening following her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis and said having the plot gets her active and out of the house.

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Pontygwindy Allotments

She added: “In future, we would want to make the allotments accessible to disabled people. We want them to be enjoyed by everyone.”

The National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) Wales has a plot at the allotments where it grows plants and vegetables. NERS is a Public Health Wales scheme encouraging those with a chronic condition to be physically active.

The application form states: “The aim of the scheme is to reduce the inequalities in ill health by providing access to tailored and supervised physical activity.

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Leanne Stone at Pontygwindy Allotments

“The building would help support education, wellbeing, mental health, healthy eating and much more.”

Members donate to a foodbank at least once a week – this includes fruit and vegetables grown on site, and donations from plot holders.

There is already a separate eco toilet on the site for visitors to use, therefore a toilet has not been included in the plans.

Caerphilly Council’s planning department is expected to make a decision on whether to grant permission for the centre by the end of September.