Bognor community allotment project has 'amazing opportunity to expand'

The members of DIG IT. From left: Danny Dawes, Craig Pinkney, Connor Pinkney, and Jo Cooke, WSCC Partnership and Commnities team. ks190188-1
The members of DIG IT. From left: Danny Dawes, Craig Pinkney, Connor Pinkney, and Jo Cooke, WSCC Partnership and Commnities team. ks190188-1

Community project Dig It is looking to expand in Bognor Regis.

Dig It was formed as part of Grandad's Front Room's community initiative, which is looking for funding to keep the much needed scheme going for years to come. Read more here
Craig Pinkney, who volunteers in the scheme with his son Connor, spoke to the Observer after praise from Danny Dawes, who runs Grandad's Front Room.

Danny said the work the pair have done is 'fantastic' and reserved particular praise for Connor, 22, who 'has been pivotal, even though he has autism'.

Craig said: "Connor and I started volunteering in the middle part of last year, helping out in the shop. Connor had finished college but couldn't get work.

"Connor humbles people so much. He is brilliant. He has got an amazing capacity for learning and doing for someone who really struggles with the social inclusion side of things. He loves it and it's good for him and other people.

"Danny wanted to get the allotment off the ground and we were interested. The front room gave us a start and we got on to the Bognor Regis allotment holders association and got four plots and we went from there. We've gradually built up from there over the winter.

"It's gathered a lot of interest from different groups in the community and we've been teaming up with the community gardeners. More people wanted to come down than we anticipated so we got in touch with Jo Cooke from the county council team and they said they would help us create a safe space where people could come and have security there."

Craig said there is an opportunity to expand the allotments on the Crimshaw Manor Farm on Lower Bognor Road.

He added: "We've got an amazing growing opportunity but we need funding for half a dozen polytunnels and a chicken business. It's snowballing at the moment.

"The local landowners have given us an amazing 26 acres of land. We are looking at relocating the Pagham Ponies there who have to move because of the housing development at Church Barton Farm. We are going to team up."

Craig, who is signed up to the West Sussex County Council Shared Lives scheme, also revealed a personal factor behind his community work in Bognor.

He said: "My twin boys have been through the county educational needs system. They are coming up to 23 this year and need that next stage and we couldn't find what we were looking for, so we have had to do it ourselves.

"There is such a need but nothing we could tailor. They are outside the box and get nothing but they should be getting priory because they are most at risk and most in need.

"The whole scheme is very positive and supportive. I could not say enough about Grandad's. It's one of the best CICs around.

"I am really excited about what they will throw at us next."