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lettuce 1Each year The Heritage Lottery Fund provides £3m worth of grants through their Sharing Heritage Grants to not-for-profit groups wanting to explore their community’s heritage. Melbourne Festival in South Derbyshire is celebrating a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant for their exciting new project celebrating Melbourne’s Market Gardening Heritage – “For the Love of Lettuce”.

Melbourne Festival would like say a big thank you to everyone who supports the National Lottery, we are proud to say that we have received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant! We are very excited about starting our new project – For the Love of Lettuce – Celebrating Melbourne’s Market Gardening Heritage. Melbourne Festival has been given £10,000 to find out more about the history of Market Gardening in Melbourne and to highlight what the three surviving Market Gardeners are doing to ensure the industry survives in the present day.

Each year Melbourne Festival has a theme and this year our theme celebrates our hardworking Market Gardeners. In the 19th and early 20th Century Melbourne had nearly 150 Market Gardeners, the industry declined dramatically in the 20th Century but three local families the Heaths, Jacksons and Sharps are still going strong and their produce is sold from their farms, at local farmers markets and to wholesalers – you can’t get fresher food!

During 2017 Melbourne Festival will build on their Market Gardening Project by working with other Midlands based arts organisations to engage with local people whose families were Market Gardeners to collect their memories, anecdotes and images of the industry. These memories will be used to create a large online archive over the next year which we can all share, initial findings will be shown at Melbourne Festival on 16 & 17 September and in Melbourne Library in the autumn. It will also be used to brief professional Artists to create sculptures, living pictures and installations from local produce reflecting our findings ready for this year’s Festival. Produce for the project will also be grown by Heaths Farm Shop, F Jackson and Son and William Sharp & Sons, members of Melbourne Gardening Club and at Whistlewood Common. Melbourne Festival is also working with children in Melbourne Infant School, Melbourne Junior School, Melbourne Scouts & Guides, The Athenaeum Youth Club who will be growing summer vegetables and working with professional artists on creative projects this summer.

The Festival team are currently recruiting volunteers to help interview people about their memories of the halcyon days of market gardening in Melbourne. Please contact us if you would like to help out interviewing, gardening or making the tea. Interview training will be provided in May after which the exciting part starts!

May sees the official launch of the project and it’s time for Tea! The Festival team are looking forward to meeting anyone who would like to share their memories and old photographs and are inviting local people to join them for tea and to share their memories with their team of volunteers. The first session is on Tuesday 23rd May at 2.30 pm at the Senior Citizen Centre, the team will be back at the Senior Citizen Centre over the weekend of 3rd & 4th June when you are invited to drop in for a chat during the Melbourne Festival Open Exhibition event. More events will be arranged throughout the summer. Any photographs loaned will be copied and returned to their owners. Sharon Brown from Melbourne Festival says “Melbourne is a great place to live, our history is based on hardworking local people whose hard work made Melbourne the place it is today. Each year we have a theme for the Festival and this year we are celebrating our unsung heroes who for many years kept food on our plates”.

If you would like more information about how to get involved the Festival team can be contacted through the Festival Office on 07765 819428 or email or via the Community Care Office in Derby Road.