What can you make out of scrap wood, abandoned pallets and disposable brewery kegs? Amazing things, as North London Master Gardeners found out at their latest In-Service Training Day on Saturday.
Our workshop leaders were Small World Urbanism, a collective whose vision is “to see a world where the streets are green and abundant with food, where people can gather and play, learn new skills and work with their hands. To re-use waste materials and find local solutions with local people that are practical and help implement them.”
They brought pallets, timber offcuts and power tools and saws for the Master Gardeners to learn the art of “upcycling” – or creating new and useful objects out of abandoned or unwanted items.
Many of the Master Gardeners volunteer in settings where there are no beds or planters for new food growers to use, so learning to create raised beds and boxes out of junk is a low-cost solution.
We were fortunate to have the inspirational surroundings of the Skip Garden at King’s Cross as our venue for the workshop.
The volunteers split into small groups to design their objects, each under the guidance of one of Small World Urbanism’s four trainers. After a health and safety briefing we were outside and ready to bring our designs to life.
Although the day started chilly and grey, Master Gardeners soon warmed up, learning the right way to break up a pallet and remove old metal strips from scaffolding boards. A little scavenge (with permission!) around the Skip Garden itself yielded some useful pieces of timber which were incorporated into the designs.
Pallets were fashioned into a chair, with added areas for planting, a wall planter, ladder, seats, a big raised bed and more. Not one finger was hammered and not one splinter suffered!
Volunteers worked together to improve designs, get round construction issues and hold planks of wood steady while they were being sawn.
Lunch was hugely welcome after such a physically busy morning, and the Skip Garden cafe did us proud with warm goats’ cheese quiche and wonderful salads of carrots, peanut and raisins and fennel and quinoa.
Feeling revitalised the Master Gardeners returned to their screwdrivers and saws and by early afternoon the broken pallets had been transformed into home-made seats, tables and planters.
For some volunteers it was the first time they had used power tools to create wooden structures and most found they were more confident at the end of the session.
“Exceptional day. This vastly exceeded my expectations. So very useful and inspiring.”
“I’ve learned to give it a try, don’t be afraid of power tools. Materials are everywhere”
“With a little imagination you can make useful objects from waste materials”
“It’s the best Master Gardener workshop I’ve ever done!”
“Very good idea for course!Keep looking for upcycling materials and use good tools.”
“Excellent. I can do it! And I am getting a jigsaw!
“The course was more than I expected. I feel more confident with tools.”
“Excellent – everything can have a use!”
“Very fun – great people – nothing need go to waste.
“I expected it to be enjoyable but it exceeded my expectations. I love upcycling wooden pallets!
Learn more about Small World Urbanism here
Master Gardeners are food-growing mentors, trained and supported by Garden Organic. Would you like to volunteer for this lively and rewarding role? Contact Liza
Read about other in-service training days here