FAMILIES in Johnson Fold are getting their hands dirty growing their own fruit and veg.

More than 40 homes on the estate are now growing peas, strawberries, carrots, potatoes and cucumber — after the project was launched last October.

Edible Estates started when youth workers Marian Jackson and Margaret Openshaw allowed the Johnson Fold Community Action Group to use a house on the estate — which they had previously rented out to private tenants.

Residents can go into the house, in Montserrat Road, and learn how to grow their own food, then take a crate home so they can grow their own.

Mrs Jackson, aged 54, said: “The reaction from the community has been fantastic.

“We just decided to try and encourage people to grow their own food. We are doing it with them, not for them.

“The property came up for rent in October and we both thought that rather than renting it out again we’d let the locals use it to learn how to grow fruit and veg.

"We just wanted to give something back to the community as we are both from here.

“We don’t charge them any rent, but a lot of the residents do contribute to the running costs.

“It has really brought the community together — some people say that before this they didn’t know any of their neighbours, but now they have a common ground.”

And thanks to a grant from Bolton at Home and support from the nearby Asda in Astley Bridge, the project has grown as quickly as the food.

Anne Burns, west neighbourhood manager for Bolton at Home, said: “We wanted to develop a project aimed at food growing and the environment.

“It’s wonderful to see how the members of the group have embraced Edible Estates and are inspiring so many households to grow their own food.

“It’s a pleasure to support them and we appreciate all that they’re doing to take it forward.”