STAFFORD charity House of Bread is growing in all senses of the word.
The charity, which started off feeding homeless people once a week, is now expanding its work to teach cooking skills in local communities and schools.
And it has been given an allotment so that green-fingered volunteers can start growing fruit and vegetables to aid its work.
The allotment, off Cambridge Road, has been given to the charity free of charge for two years by the Stafford Freemen’s Allotments Association.
The land had not been tended for a couple of years - but in their first week House of Bread gardeners harvested a sack of potatoes. They were also given gifts of vegetables by other allotment holders.
And the result, said charity director Will Morris, was that they were able to feed 97 people at their regular midweek meal for a total outlay of just £9.02 last week.
“We are thrilled by this generous gift of an allotment,” Mr Morris said. “It will not only provide us with fresh produce, it also gives some of the friends we work with the chance to get involved in growing their own food and enjoying the benefits of fresh air and exercise, and working together.
The charity also plans to create a “sanctuary” area at the back of the allotment for people to sit and admire the scenery, and will be planting trees in memory of homeless Stafford man Dale James and House of bread volunteer Clare Glenton, who both died earlier this year.
Chairman of the allotment trustees Phil Kinnersley said: “We are very pleased to give House of Bread an allotment that wasn’t being used.
“These allotments have been helping to feed Stafford families since their charter was granted by King John in 1208, and this is another step in that great tradition.
“We will be on hand to help out this good cause with some gardening advice too.”
House of Bread is also expanding its work with new Bread Church cooking projects in Rising Brook and Doxey.
The lunchtime sessions, at Rising Brook Methodist Church and St Thomas and St Andrew Church, Doxey, are open to anyone who wants to come along, and involve volunteers working alongside local families to teach new cookery skills, including bread-making, and to share a meal together.
The charity is also holding Friday evening cookery sessions at the Eagle House supported living centre, near Stafford town centre, and is planing to join forces with Tesco’s Farm to Fork project at Silkmore Primary School next term.
“We are now getting enquiries about House of Bread from across the country from people who want to set up similar schemes in their own communities,” Mr Morris added.
“And we are getting great support from Stafford people, who are really taking our projects to their hearts.”
Anyone who can donate plants or gardening equipment to the charity can contact
it via its website: www.hobstafford.co.uk