A bid to make Croydon one of the UK's greenest boroughs has been launched today (Wednesday, March 31) by a stalwart community group in the area.

The John Whitgift Foundation said Wednesday they were marking a remarkable 425-year anniversary by handing out free seeds to all of Croydon's estimated 400,000 residents who wanted them in the coming days.

The foundation, which began life as a school founded in 1596 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift, said they hoped to encourage Croydon communities of all ages to take up gardening and create a borough where plants of all shapes and sizes can thrive.

To that end they launched a new website from which anyone living in Croydon can order packs of free mixed herbs and tomato plant seeds, for planting at home or in communal spaces in the borough.

"Celebrating 425 years of supporting people of all ages and backgrounds across Croydon, this is the biggest community project in our history and will bring the joy of gardening direct to the heart of our residents," Catherine Shirley from the foundation said.

"The campaign will work to improve mental health, healthy eating, and sustainable living across the borough, and we can’t wait to paint the town green and see what residents get growing," she added.

Timed with the arrival of spring and the garden-centric Easter Holidays, the campaign have already received the backing from a number of renowned sources, including legendary TV Gardener Alan Titchmarsh MBE.

Your Local Guardian: Wayne Starr Allotment. Image: John Whitgift FoundationWayne Starr Allotment. Image: John Whitgift Foundation

"Gardening is such a life-saver, both for individuals and in communities: it fosters our understanding of the natural world, feeds us and lifts our spirits.

"Congratulations to the wise people of Croydon on the 'Grow with John' project which is a brilliant idea and one which I hope other schools and communities will learn from. Grow well!"

Staff at Croydon schools and care homes who stand to be one of the project's main benefactors have also described their support and joy at the project's launch.

One of those was Oasis Academy Ryelands Bethany Cutter, who teaches KS1 and leads outdoor learning at the school.

"Having have spent the majority of last year stuck indoors, the time is long overdue to get a little bit muddy and reconnect with nature," she said.

"We are thrilled to be involved with the inaugural year of Grow With John and are excited to see what our children will achieve in the coming months."

To get more information on Grow With John, and order your very own seeds, click here.