Tasha Eve a Master Gardener at Haverstock Hill, a St Mungos Broadway Sheltered Housing project shares the latest progress of the gardening group. These activities form part of the Growing for Health programme
”Fellow Master Gardner Les Coupland and I first got involved with the gardening project at Haverstock Hill in August 2014. We started with a blank canvas. An overgrown, shady and secluded garden, attached to the residents house. Our goal was to set up a gardening group for the residents helping them to learn to grow their own vegetables which ultimately would be prepared in the kitchen and served at meal times.
Together with some of the residents and Olu, the Project Worker we created a plan for developing the garden over the months that followed. Three residents initially started regularly attending our weekly gardening sessions, and we planted lettuce seeds, broad beans and herbs. As they started growing we then re-potted the seedlings and cleared the flower beds ready for planting. The group also collected leaves for composting and put up two small greenhouses for propagation.
In the early months of this year (2015) some of the residents were reluctant to attend the gardening sessions due to the cold weather, but now that Spring has arrived, more residents have been taking an interest and getting inspired. It also really helps when staff at the house remind residents to come!
We’ve even been getting more frequent visits to the garden by members of staff themselves, who wander in and stop for a chat to see what’s going on. Some even stay a while and help get stuck in to digging or else just observe the goings on with cuppa tea in hand.
Over the past few months we’ve been working on widening and reinforcing the beds we cleared earlier in the year as well as putting out garden waste. The broad beans are now starting to grow up the twig lattice we put up against the fence and there is more light at the back of the garden now that we have pruned some of the tree branches. We also have a new compost bin.
The kale, lettuce and French bean seedlings in the greenhouses are nearly ready to plant out and one resident has been helping to ‘pot on’ the leeks that are growing prolifically. We’ve been discussing with residents what else they would like to grow and eat. Some of residents have asked about planting tomatoes and potatoes in the next few weeks. The growing space is now looking great and our planting plan is really coming together!”
”We’re very encouraged to see increasing interest in the gardening group as each week passes and there’s a nice atmosphere now with staff and residents seeming to enjoy themselves. We’re feeling really positive about how it’s all going.” Tasha Eve, Master Gardener
Haverstock Hill is a sheltered housing run by St Mungos Broadway, for people with mental health problems who want to live in a communal setting, whilst maintaining and working towards increasing independence. Residents must be self-medicating and have a local connection to the borough of Camden.
The Growing for Health programme is an initiative in the boroughs of Camden and Islington to encourage more residents to get involved in learning to grow their own food. The initiative is primarily targeting individuals who are socially isolated, have mental health conditions or long term health conditions who would benefit from more physical activity, social engagement in their communities and a healthier diet through easier access to local food. Read more about the Growing for Health programme Here