Sustain today announced that 16 towns and cities have signed up to be part in the nation's biggest community gardening volunteering day on Saturday 22nd March 2014, with over 100 gardens already signed up.
The Big Dig Day will tap into and channel the enthusiasm that exists both for gardening and volunteering and promote the benefits that growing food can have on the health and wellbeing of individuals and their communities. To date the Big Dig project  has recruited 7,500 new volunteers and created over 29,000 opportunities for volunteers to take part in community gardening. The project builds on the success of Capital Growth  which has helped over 100,000 people to get involved in new community food growing spaces in London.
The 16 towns and cities taking part this year cover the length and breadth of the British Isles from Falkirk in the north, to Totnes in the south, Belfast to the west and Newcastle to the east.
One of the gardens taking part is Wor Lotty in Newcastle. The garden is run by Food Nation, a social enterprise which works to deliver innovative food and nutrition services to schools, businesses and communities across North East England. Their Big Dig Day last year was a great success, attracting a team of new volunteers, most of them volunteering for the first time.
Anna Corbett garden leader at the project said “"The volunteers were fantastic and we achieved a huge amount. What a great bunch of people! Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and they all said they would like to come back and do some more."
Wor Lotty now run an extra regular monthly Saturday work session to capture the enthusiasm and interest prompted by last year’s Big Dig day.
Cities and towns wanting to participate should contact Sustain before the end of February and volunteers looking to take part in a local activity can visit the website www.bigdig.org for more information on local gardens that they can get involved with.
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1. The Big Dig is co-ordinated nationally by Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming which advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. www.sustainweb.org
2. The Big Dig is is a nationwide project which aims to engage people in community food-growing projects across England. Details of the organisations leading the Big Dig in each of the places taking part can be found here. The 16 towns and cities taking part are Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Cardiff, Congleton, Durham, Falkirk, Kirklees (Hudderfield & Dewsbury) Liverpool, London, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Nottingham, Swansea, Totnes.
Big Dig Day 2014 events will mostly take place on 22nd March but there will also be events occurring throughout the weekend of 21-23rd March 2014
3. Capital Growth is London’s largest food growing network and was launched in 2008 to provide practical and financial help to Londoners to set up 2,012 new food growing spaces. Capital Growth is funded by the Mayor of London and City Bridge Trust and continues to support over 2000 growing spaces in the capital with growing and selling food. www.capitalgrowth.org
The Big Dig London is being run by Capital Growth and funded by the Urban Food Routes - a programme funded by the GLA and Seeds of Change and coordinated by the Plunkett Foundation. The project will provide gain expert advice and funding to a variety of London’s small food enterprises will to support them to thrive and benefit their local communities.
4. Interviews with volunteers and garden leaders and photographs are available on request.