MENTAL health charity Growing Well is expanding its weekly vegetable box scheme after a boom in demand for locally grown food during the Covid-19 crisis.

The organic fruit and vegetable farm at Low Sizergh supplies 74 local families under its ‘crop share’ scheme. Members receive around 37 bags of fresh, seasonal, organic produce a year, paying a monthly subscription of £40.

The income plays a vital part in supporting Growing Well’s charitable work, with around 100 people with mental health problems volunteering on the farm and in its kitchen every year.

The extra availability coincides with the site reopening last week to its volunteers after 13 weeks of lockdown.

It also coincides with the start of the abundant summer season where crop sharers receive beautiful vegetables, salad and fruits every week until late autumn.

Growing Well chief executive Mary Smith said: “We had a big spike in enquiries and demand at the beginning of lockdown, when so many people were struggling to get reliable food supplies.

“We were able to fulfil some of that but with a skeleton growing team we’ve had to work so hard just to keep growing at the same level.

“Now we are delighted to have our volunteers back with us and are producing our beautiful summer crop shares every week it’s the perfect time to expand our production and offer 26 more crop share places to local families.”

Mrs Smith added that being a crop share member was about ‘more than just having a great supply of local veg’.

Kendal wedding photographer Tiree Dawson became a crop sharer in November.

“We love our Growing Well Cropshare, it’s always so exciting to get the email that tells us ‘what’s in the bag,” she said.

“There are so many reasons to be part of this scheme. We get to enjoy incredibly tasty organic produce that has been grown just a few miles away and the huge variety in the bags means that as well as all our favourites we find ourselves trying new things and experimenting with different recipes.

“The crop share scheme is incredibly generous and as a family of four it keeps us going for at least a week. Because the items are so freshly harvested they tend to last longer too.”