Bridge Community Farms in Ellesmere Port expands after acquiring The Natural Veg Men delivered veg box business

The Ellesmere Port-based charity, which works with the unemployed and those suffering from mental health conditions and life-long learning disabilities, has taken over the running of the Veg Box scheme developed by The Natural Veg Men.

Seasonal veg boxes are now available for delivery every Tuesday across West Cheshire, Chester and the Wirral.

Matt Smee of The Natural Veg Men, which was started by three Chester University friends, said: “After more than 200 weeks of deliveries and over 22,000 veg boxes we are handing over the running of our Veg Box scheme to the fantastic Bridge Community Farms.

“We were keen to work with them because they have such a fantastic impact on their local community and the team running the farm are absolutely brilliant.

“We’ll be on hand to help with the smooth transition of the veg box scheme over the next few months and are helping them make their growth plans for the year ahead.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing them develop the veg box offering and continue to provide the best produce in the North West as well as creating further impact in their community.”

Clair Johnson, Farm & Wellness Manager said: “We are delighted to have taken on the hugely successful Veg Box scheme founded by Matt and Tom.

“When people buy their vegetables from us they are not only supporting a great local charity and community farm, they are also supporting sustainable farming practices that protect wildlife, care for the soil and work in harmony with the nature around us.”

HRH The Earl of Wessex recently visited Bridge Community Wellness Gardens and Farm to officially open The Earl of Chester Hydroponics Unit.

The commercial hydroponics unit, the first of its kind in Cheshire, is a method of growing plants without soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.

Plants can be grown with only their roots exposed to the solution. Staff and volunteers at the farm will grow fruit, vegetables and exotic microgreens using hydroponics to order for high-end restaurants in Cheshire.

The social enterprise, based on Mill Lane in Ellesmere Port, is a working horticultural farm with organic principles which first began operating in 2014.

The charity’s main purpose is to provide a therapeutic environment for people suffering from a range of mental health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as those with mental and physical learning disabilities.

They also create permanent and sustainable jobs for the long-term unemployed by growing and selling fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs to the local community.

Since it opened, the charity has worked with hundreds of people of all ages, from school children with severe behaviour problems, CCGs and GPs engaged in social prescribing, social services and the long-term unemployed - helping them through what are often extremely difficult times.

They also work with local charitable Trusts and Foundations, as well as businesses with a social conscience.

Benefactors include ForHousing, Barratt Homes, Cheshire Freemasons, Grief UK, Steve Morgan Foundation, Ursula Keyes Trust, The Earl of Chester Trust and the Williams Family Foundation.

The local authority, CWaC, and Ellesmere Port Council have been hugely supportive, as have countless individuals.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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