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Bromford customers top of the crops

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A grow-your-own community venture has helped to change the eating habits of residents at an award-winning eco housing scheme -and won them a Green Apple award from social landlord Bromford.

The appetite for home-grown fruit and veg took root almost as soon as tenants moved in at Cross Street South, Wolverhampton - a shining example of sustainable living that includes allotment space and biomass-fuelled central heating as well as internal features like super-thick insulation and sun tubes that let in extra light.

Tenants Claire Lucksted and Emma Edwards have led the way on the allotments front by growing more than 30 different crops and turning them into yummy yet healthy meals that help them and their children to meet their five-a-day target.

The pair's green-fingered glee caught on with Catherine Wisdom and other neighbours - especially the "sprouts" - and earned one of the first Green Apple honours awarded as part of a group-wide Greener Bromford campaign to encourage eco-friendly actions.

The Green Apple certificates and £30 in gardening vouchers were presented by Bromford Living's head of neighbourhood for the West Midlands, Darrin Gamble, on Monday (March 28).

He said: "Our Green Apple awards recognise and celebrate the unique ways customers and colleagues are helping to reduce their carbon footprint. Claire and Emma have set a great example - taking our purpose-built allotment space and making a real difference to the lives of their families and neighbours."

Bromford Living neighbourhood investment manager Michele Campbell nominated Claire and Emma after seeing their gardening talents - and neighbourly spirit - blossom at Blakenhall.

"Everyone is a winner here," said Michele, named one of Sustainability West Midlands' Top 50 Green Leaders for her work in promoting Cross Street South's eco success.

"Claire and Emma have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in -even though Emma had no previous gardening experience. What's really great about them is that as well as growing for themselves and their families they have encouraged lots of other people to have a go as well.

"The children have been especially enthusiastic - with encouragement from Claire and Emma. It's been inspiring to see children as young as two taking an active part and learning how to grow all sorts of things. This has encouraged them to eat more fruit and veg."

Mum Emma said: "The children love helping out - and sampling the veggies as they go! Something simple like a carrot or pea really does taste better if you've grown it yourself."

Emma and Claire's blossoming skills include the introduction of a crop rotation scheme to make sure that the soil stays fertile and an honesty box encouraging neighbours to take surplus produce and leave a small donation towards the cost of more seeds and plants.

Pictured: Bromford head of neighbourhoods Darrin Gamble and (left to right) green-fingered residents Claire Lucksted, Emma Edwards and Catherine Wisdom with little Alexander Lucksted (standing) and Billy Edwards (held).