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Growing gardeners of the future

GREEN TEAM: Eunice McGhie-Belgrave (centre) with pupils (from left) Irum Khan, Hollie Thomas, Miriam Gakuru and Adeel Hussain

COMMUNITY GROUP founder Eunice McGhie-Belgrave is helping youngsters lay down strong roots for future generations - by helping them to plant an orchard on allotments near their Birmingham schools.

Mrs McGhie, as she is known to generations of school children, is spearheading the orchard project at Stechford’s Francis Road allotments to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee later this year.

The scheme has won support from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers with Western Power Direct donating money for fruit trees. Coventry-based Ryton Gardens, the home of national charity Garden Organic, is also lending its support.

Apple and pear trees, along with gooseberry bushes and other fruit shrubs, will soon be taking root at the allotments where Mrs McGhie continues her Shades of Black scheme.

Set up in 1989, Shades of Black was launched to unite a fractured community in Birmingham in the wake of the 1980s riots, and still thrives today.

More than two decades later Mrs McGhie, who is in her seventies, is still showing youngsters how to grow and cook their own food.

Nearly 60 children from Stechford Primary and Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School helped to plant some saplings and will tend to them as they grow, while also tending to the vegetables they have already sown at the allotments.

Gloria Smith, deputy head of Stechford Primary, and David Logue, assistant head of Corpus Christi, both say that Mrs McGhie has been an inspiration to their children.

Mr Logue said: “The children love being around her and love learning on the allotments because it’s all about real life.”

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