A little oasis of gardening and woodwork for armed forces veterans in Ashton opened its doors to the public on Saturday.Advertisement
Dig In North West runs the garden in Ashton Park which is home to a scheme to help veterans readjust to civilian life.
Donna Rowe-Green, who runs the community interest company, said what they had achieved was just the start.
In 2013 the park’s old stables were ramshackle and overgrown, now it is well laid out beds and a little sea of calm.
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She said: “If you saw it before you just wouldn’t recognise the place.
“We were featured in the TV show where it was transformed and I have to admit after the first few months I was a bit nervous.
“There were a few veterans coming in but we found gardening wasn’t really their thing. So we changed it up.”
With the help of Robert Grant they created a ‘man cave’ for the veterans.
Donna, 47, said: “We listened to what they wanted and it was to make things. Securing funding for the tools was the first step and since then it’s become the most popular thing at the garden.
“Veterans want to feel useful, they don’t want hand outs. So they create chairs, planters and other furniture in here and then we sell it on or use it for good causes.”
Now the garden is complete the group are turning their attention to what happens next.
An old building next to the garden is due to be converted into a counselling centre, and Donna has plans for the yard next to the garden.
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She said: “The council own the land and we put it to use.
“The first step is to expand the man cave and Conlon Construction have very kindly donated an old shipping container we can use for this.
“Beyond that we want to restore some Edwardian gardens here and long-term have our own building, offices and conference facilities here.
“It’s important veterans have the chance to interact with the public and we want to do this with a new building.”
The veterans garden is open from Monday to Thursday from 9.30am to 4pm and open to those currently serving in the armed forces or those who have finished serving.
Dig In North West now employs six people part-time.
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