A very warm welcome to North London’s new Master Gardeners, who completed their induction training at the weekend (16/17th May) and are now fully-fledged food-growing mentors.
The 21 keen volunteers are ready to start helping people in the boroughs of Camden and Islington grow their own food to benefit health, happiness and wellbeing.
Over two intensive days they learned about the volunteer role they will carry out for the next 12 months, the groups they will be helping, and had a thorough grounding in organic growing techniques.
The glorious, sunny weather meant lots of learning took place outside, in the lovely surroundings of the Islington Ecology Centre in Gillespie Road.
Garden Organic has been commissioned by Islington & Camden Public Health to deliver the Growing for Health project until 2016. Master Gardener volunteers will be helping residents in Islington and Camden learn to grow their own and by doing so become more active and connected to their community. The target beneficiaries are users of mental health services, the socially isolated and individuals living with long term physical ill-health.
The new volunteers took part in hands-on sessions led by Garden Organic’s Anton Rosenfeld to enhance their knowledge of organic growing practices. There was a lot of debate and a lot of laughs as they learned about what is acceptable in the organic garden.
On Sunday morning, Amarinder Vadera from Mind led a thought-provoking workshop on mental health and safeguarding vulnerable adults.
In the afternoon, Master Gardeners Helene and Alison talked about the wonderful work they do with the residents of two hostels. Helene revealed ways of encouraging new growers through the colder months and Alison explained how she is transforming a tiny cafe space into a vibrant growing area for clients.
Green Co-ordinator Jess from SHP, one of our partners, talked about the different volunteering opportunities for Master Gardeners with SHP, which looks after homeless and vulnerable people in London. The new Master Gardeners can support individuals in their neighbourhoods, or choose to get involved in growing projects run by our partners, including Freightliners City Farm, St Lukes Trust, Global Generation, Urban Growth, SHP and others.
Amazing lunches were provided by Ximena from Hackney Growers’ Kitchen. Sorrel pesto, falafel, and delicious salads were much enjoyed by all. Huge thanks for your hard work, Ximena!
Thanks to Islington Ecology Centre for hosting the training weekend, to Helene and Alison and especially to Anton for horticultural know-how.
Comments from the new Master Gardeners
‘Thanks again to you and Anton and everyone else who made it such a fun and fulfilling weekend’
‘The training was amazing!’‘Thanks for the weekend, it was well organised and informative.’‘Amazing, inspirational; Delicious; Fantastic.’
‘Far better than I could have imagined.’
‘Very good support, I think it will be a great opportunity and experience.’
‘Exceeds my expectations and seems very well organised and resourced.
‘It was a really fun weekend – I loved having the outside activities on Saturday – Anton is a great speaker
‘The new Master Gardeners have started adding their profiles to the website. If you are looking for support growing your own food, Click here for the interactive map, Find your Local Master Gardeners.