PETTY criminals serving community orders have breathed new life into a community garden.
One volunteer said she wept with delight when the team of offenders undertaking unpaid work as punishment came to the rescue at Mold Community Garden in Park Avenue.
The garden, which encourages children, vulnerable adults and residents to learn how to grow vegetables and encourage wildlife, was in “dire straights”, accoridng to stalwart Angela Bebbington.
But it was transformed when a team of workers from the Wales Probation’s Community Payback Team dropped in to help.
The team laid paths for wheelchair users, pruned overgrown shrubs, repaired locks, replaced a gate and tackled damp in the clubhouse.
Mrs Bebbington said: “Community Payback were lifesavers – it was in dire straits.
“Stone for paths had been donated by Hanson’s at Padeswood, but we had no one to lay it.
“When I had a call from the Probation Service saying they could help I wept on the phone.
“Gardening feeds the soul as well as the body and our mission is to support and create opportunities for all people to have access to the garden, regardless of circumstances.”
The site was little more than scrubland when the community garden project began in 2008.
Since then volunteers like Mrs Bebbington have worked hard to create the haven.
The garden, which has 37 mini-plots, is used by schools, children with special needs and vulnerable adults and also has a respite youth club.
“The majority of the Community Payback team really thought about why they were there and expressed a desire not to get into trouble again,” said Mrs Bebbington.
“They thought about how they could contribute something to society.”
She said the garden’s committee was deeply touched by the support from Wales Probation and by the team’s hard work.
Offenders can be sentenced to take part in unpaid work for up to four days a week involving projects nominated by the public for the benefit of local communities.
Graham Thomas, Community Payback development officer, said: “The Mold Community Garden is an excellent example of partnership working which benefits local people, some of whom are disadvantaged in some way.”