THERE are 'big visions' for the future at a community garden as it looks to expand a year and a half after first opening.

In July 2016 the Restore Community Centre officially unveiled the GROW Community Garden, on land leased from Loughton Town Council.

Having arrived in the UK from South Africa six months previously, Anne Redelinghuys took charge of the garden, using her background as a business developer to organise volunteers, build relationships with businesses and schools, and grow vegetables.

She said: "The whole purpose of the garden is to provide a space for people of the community to work together in.

"We have 12 people that comes on a regular basis, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We also have about seven or eight pupils from Oakfield School coming in every Wednesday.

"Working with a special needs school is a bit of a breakthrough for us and shows that we are here for everybody in the community."

Since opening a wide variety of vegetables have been planted and come to harvest in the garden, including potatoes, tomatoes, broad beans and radishes.

Mrs Redlinghuys added: "The soil is so fertile and the vegetables took off much better than we had expected.

"Last year we sold some of it off the premises, some of it had to be composted.

"We have a big vision going forward. The council can give us more allotment space on Willingdale Road. We hope to get it as soon as we get funding.

"I want grow organic food and then sell food boxes to make the garden self sustainable."

As well as producing a delicious and healthy end product, the project manager swears by the garden's ability to rehabilitate.

"I have spent three days a week of my life here for the last 18 months," she continued.

"Growing is now a big thing for me. I remember pickaxing ground for many days to see something that no one else did. I had to be determined.

"It is better than medication for people to put something into the ground, watch it grow, from something brown to something green to something to eat."

Open sessions are run at GROW Community Garden on Pyrles Lane between 10.30am and 3pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 2pm on Saturday.