RESIDENTS are growing their own food to help them get through the coronavirus crisis.

More than 150 people in the Braintree district have now signed up to the 'grow your own' gardening scheme which has been launched amid the ongoing pandemic.

The campaign is encouraging residents to pick up their tools and start growing their own fruit and vegetables.

It is particularly aimed at vulnerable people who have been shielding from Covid-19 since March and cannot get out to the shops to get supplies.

The project is being run by Abberton Rural Training who are providing free starter kits and online tutorials.

A host of organisations have teamed up with Abberton to boost the scheme, including Braintree Council, Witham Community Hub, and Witham Town Football Club.

Home Secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel is also fully behind the 'grow your own' revolution, which has already been a big hit in Maldon, Colchester and Chelmsford.

She said: "This is an excellent scheme for those people who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 and for whom a visit to the shops or a supermarket is still a potential risk.

"This free starter pack will help them make a start at growing their own food, which will hopefully cut down on the number of visits they have to make to retail premises for basics like salad and vegetables.

"Growing your own food is also a terrific hobby that encourages you to spend more time in your garden, in the open air and is a surprisingly good form of exercise."

The starter packs are due to be delivered to residents in the coming days.

They include a planter, a potting tray, a bag of compost and a selection of seeds for vegetable and salad plants.

Windowsill packs are also available for those who don’t have a garden.

The packs will delivered to Witham Town FC which will then help take them onto those who have signed up to the scheme.

Chairman Mark Nicholls said: "As a community club, it was obvious from the beginning we would want to be involved in this project.

"We have around 300 families in and around in the club on a weekly basis, so further serving the community was right up our street."

Abberton is encouraging all residents in the district to get involved with the grow your own project.

Despite the obvious benefits of the scheme, chief exec Jacqui Stone insists those taking part will also gain social and mental benefits.

She said: "We are delighted to bring our 'grow your own' project to the Braintree district after its successful rollout in several other areas.

"Being able to have a positive project during this time really helps people to cope with the challenges of isolation.

"Many have found that they can join together as a family, helping children find out where food comes from and really enjoy the fruits of their harvest.

"We are providing online videos to help them make the most of their new vegetable plots and many have reported that they now have the gardening bug."