A GARDEN project that is helping to pull a community together and brighten up a neighbourhood has been officially opened.

The Garden of Eden, in Spennymoor, was opened by Peter Horrocks, from the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners on Sunday afternoon.

Project co-ordinator Pauline Freeman, who with neighbour, Ronny Irvin, tends the garden daily, said: "It is absolutely brilliant. We had a lot of people at the opening, from Durham County, Sedgefield Borough and Spennymoor Town councils and locals.

"It can only grow as more people learn what we are doing here, which is what it is all about getting everyone together and taking care of the area."

Members of Eden Residents' Association took over two derelict plots at Timothy Terrace Allotments, in 2003, cleared them of fly-tipped rubbish, broken glass and weeds and transformed them into a community garden.

Now volunteers are attracting the support of neighbours they didn't even know before launching the project and are breaking down barriers between generations as young and old residents get involved.

People hope to sell home-grown produce to buy more seeds and bulbs to keep the site in bloom and have been praised by the police and Neighbourhood Watch leaders for their positive impact on the area.

But it hasn't all been a bed of roses for the group, which had to overcome a contaminated land scare, and loss of produce and planting time, while the site was given the all clear.