How overgrown chip shop garden is helping to ease cost of living burden in Wales
Video report by ITV Wales' Cost of Living Correspondent Carole Green
As Kay Pidduck heats up the fryers at lunchtime, behind her chip shop there is a small army of volunteers transforming the backyard into a veg patch.
Kay has teamed up with Rhyl Men’s Shed to bring her garden back to life and grow vegetables for the local community.
“With food prices higher than ever it was a shame to see the land overgrown. My father used to grow vegetables here but it got too much for him. The men are doing a brilliant job,” Kay said.
Potatoes, beetroots, beans and herbs and melons have all been planted - the men have high hopes for the climate in a town known as Sunny Rhyl.
Project co-ordinator Brian Penney says 250 meals are served each week at Rhyl Men’s Shed and the vegetables will be put to good use. Any produce left over will be shared amongst the volunteers, helping them to save money when food and energy prices are hitting households hard.
“Every penny counts right now and growing vegetables here will save people money. It’s a way of the local community organising itself in the face of the Cost of Living crisis,” he said.
Mike Poole is busy building a raised veg bed, filling it up with barrow loads of soil and compost. He says there are six people in his family and he’s finding it hard to keep up with food bills. The free veg will definitely help out.
For some men, the company and the chance to focus on an activity is the most important part of this garden project.
Paul Florence said it is really helping improve his mental health: “I like getting outside, being with the other volunteers.
“Working in the garden takes my mind off my worries - I’m also looking forward to the potatoes later in the year. They have really come on in the last couple of weeks.”
Chip shop owner Kay is happy to play her part by giving access to her yard but she is facing her own challenges.
“The price of fish, cooking oil and flour have all gone up. Energy too. We don’t like passing on price rises to our customers but we can only see things going one way right now," she said.
At 9%, inflation is now at its highest rate for years. Price rises are hitting those on low incomes the hardest.
The men here are feeling the pinch but they have found a practical way of helping themselves and making the local community more resilient to the challenges ahead.