Master Gardeners login

Search Results | 'case studies'

Case studies

Latest case studies from our lovely North London Master Gardeners. Please click here to tell us your story.

Posted in 0 Comments

Herbal alchemy at Elm Village – a case study of MG Elsa and the Urban Growth Project

Herbal alchemy at Elm Village – a case study of MG Elsa and the Urban Growth Project

Case Study by MG Elsa Dicks

Urban Growth in Camden is a project of London charity Jobs in Mind, run in collaboration with Islington and Camden Master Gardeners as part of the Growing for Health Programme.

It aims to support people in recovery from mental illness, and help them develop their prospects of worthwhile employment through productive and enjoyable work growing vegetables and fruit. Project members appreciate the social contact and networks, regular routines and horticultural skills they gain through the work and the opportunity to ‘give something back’ by growing food for others to enjoy, e.g beans, chard, kale, tomatoes and potatoes for the community veg box scheme in Kentish Town.

Urban Growth has 2 sites, one at St Michael’s Church, at the back of the building and the other , about 15 minutes’ walk away , overhung by trees, and with no running water, next to the garden centre in Elm Village. It is rather open and so subject to theft e.g of beetroot and sweetcorn crops and vandalism.  Despite the problems of the sites, both are  attractive,very well laid out and the crops, in recovery after the dry summer, are flourishing.

Members attend from 10.00-4.00pm for between 1-4 days, as they are able, starting the day at St Michaels with a planning meeting with their co-ordinator Ian. Ian is a highly qualified agronomist. He has a great deal of technical knowledge to offer about soils, plants,pests and growing methods and is responsible for the design and management of the sites and the planning, incorporating members’ ideas. He provides  motivation and encouragement, high quality training, and opportunities, like the recent  Michaelmas Fair at the church, for involving and demonstrating the skills of the group and the quality of their produce.

Members had expressed interest in the use of herbs and herbal medicine, one of my main reasons for gardening. My contribution to date has centred on sharing information on the cultivation and use of beneficial herbs, both cultivated and wild, and on developing the raised bed that Ian had provided for this purpose at Elm Village. I began by looking round the site to identify the 20 or so herbs -and weeds- with beneficial properties, which were already there and to list them for group members’ use. I also noted that mowings of the grass between raised beds had removed some weeds, like plantain and yarrow, which I would like to re-establish, as they are particularly useful for common complaints.

Urban Growth project

Ian gave me time to run an informal workshop on herbs one morning with the Wednesday group which I attend fortnightly for 2 hours. On several occasions I took along teas made from herbs which I had grin and dried myself for members of the group to taste and experience e.g angelica , borage, lemon balm and nettle, and an onion cough syrup.

Several members said how surprised they were that ‘the teas tasted so nice’ and that ‘it would be much cheaper to grow your own remedies , rather than buy them at the chemist.’ I also took along some liquorice root which is said to help quit smoking, which they found less palatable!

We have discussed the herbs and the benefits which group members already knew, the importance of accurate plant identification, and of consultation with GPs , as well as the results that they might expect from other herbal products, and the potential of the new herb bed. I was impressed with individuals’ interest, wisdom and general knowledge, especially of culinary herbs and their wish to know more. And I was delighted to hear one member say, on behalf of the group, that they ‘always look forward’ to my visits

Urban Growth project

I had started working with the project in high summer when watering was a problem and some of the plantings, including herbs, at Elm Village were dying back, needing a lot of attention from the group. Nevertheless members worked very hard to revive existing plants, transplant a selection of herbs and weeds to the new bed and choose some new ones. I have also worked with the group on taking cuttings of herbs to grow on. The herb bed is work in progress and will need to be reviewed in the Spring. Meanwhile I would like to offer another workshop on homemade herbal lotions, ointments and creams.

Since the first workshop I have been with 3 individual group members on errands between the sites and visits to the garden centre to choose new herbal plants and seeds and also shared in their preparations for the Michaelmas Fair at the church. Conversations along the way have been an easy way to get to know individuals and have helped me to understand some of the mental health issues they face, especially anxiety and stress, as well as other personal or social problems and daily ups and downs, which mean they cannot always attend . They clearly do enjoy the physical activity and routines of the work, are keen to learn more and always take pride in their produce. So I have seen for myself how people with quite severe health problems can flourish when they are outdoors and gardening.

I really enjoy working with Urban Growth and have come to feel very much a part of the group.

Elsa Dicks, Master Gardener

Read more about the Growing for Health Programme Here

Read more Master Gardener Case Studies Here

Posted in Case study, FeaturedComments Off

Elsa and Xaxa – A Case Study of how much can be achieved in a short time

Elsa and Xaxa – A Case Study of how much can be achieved in a short time

By Master Gardener Elsa Dicks

Xaxa wanted to grow her own veg and had contacted the Master Gardener programme in 2013 to ask for some advice on how to do this. She had asked for someone who would come and talk to her as she was keen to learn but feeling really quite stuck. Having just bought some compost and planted some seeds, she feared that it would all collapse to nothing!

 

The  Challenge!

I met Xaxa late in May 2013 and talked through what she wanted to do and the problems and possibilities of her garden. There was little growing space- a 4 ‘ high , long raised bed covered with rubber matting and topped all over with gravel, backing onto a brick high wall and overshadowed by two fences as well as the back addition of the house where she lived and just 3-4 hours sun on a good day. There was also a large hydrangea and a rather vigorous ash sapling sucking up the best of whatever lay under the rubber mats.

Xaxa had some small lettuce and radish seedlings in small plastic window boxes placed on the surface of the bed and covered with plastic packaging to protect them from slugs. She said she really did not seem to know how to proceed, or have many ideas as to what to grow.

The Advice!
I suggested straight away that she dispose of the gravel and rubber base, try to dig out the ash and cut back the hydrangea and dig in the compost she had bought which was actually a soil improver. We talked about what would grow in shade and which vegetables needed sun. I said that she might try beans and other vegetables once the soil had been prepared and also start to grow some hardy herbs as well as begin composting herself..

The Action Taken!
Xaxa made an excellent start. Within a week and, with the help of her boyfriend, she had dug out the ash and the back bed and added compost; replanted her seedlings, protecting them at night with pots. She was given some blackberry cuttings for the back bed and had bought some mint to start a herb bed.

A week or so later I sent her a link to get a cheap compost bin, or wormery and took her the Master Gardener Planting plan, some growing notes and some borage, tomato, strawberry and courgette plants as I had grown too many for my own use, together with some hardy geraniums and golden archangel that do well in shade. I was very pleased to hear that her lettuces and radishes were now growing well..

The Results!

I kept in touch and I was delighted to hear that the plants I’d given Xaxa had grown and spread about covering the ground so that the garden was now much more attractive . She said that her tomatoes had gone crazy everywhere and she had LOADS of courgettes!

She recently agreed to try garlic in the autumn, is still gardening and preparing for the new growing season and would love to try sowing carrots this year as well some of the potatoes which I have on order for my small group of households.

I am impressed with Xaxa’s enthusiasm and all that she has achieved in a relatively short time.

Elsa Dicks has been a Master Gardener since May 2012

Read more Master Gardener Case Studies Here

Posted in BlogComments Off

Courgette pasta at Aberdeen Park

Courgette pasta at Aberdeen Park

By Master Gardener Dorothy

Aberdeen Park is an 11-bed rehabilitation unit, part of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation in North London. It offers support with independent living for people with high needs and intensive recovery and rehabilitation for people who have been in acute services.

The unit is housed in a beautiful Victorian house in a leafy residential area. It has a large garden, much of which is shaded by big trees and privet hedges.

 

Gardening sessions were initiated by Anna, the occupational therapist. Sessions were attended by Master Gardeners Anita and Dorothy, Anna, one or two students or staff members and up to four residents, one of whom moved out to a less supported placement but continued to come back for some outreach sessions and two who came from another mental health ward for the sessions and subsequently moved to Aberdeen Park. (No names have been used for reasons of confidentiality).

At our first session we talked about the importance of sunlight for growing fruit and vegetables. We decided that in summer the lawn in front of the railings beneath the kitchen and sitting room windows would get the most sun.

As the ground was sloping with a steep drop to the basement beneath, it was decided that vegetables should be planted in pots, rather than trying to dig a bed there. We have since built a raised bed at our Master Gardeners Up-cycling Training Day which will be used, and we hope, added to in the future.

The raised bed buit by Dorothy and Anita

In our sessions we planted into larger pots thriving courgette plants that had previously been grown from seed, and thinned out basil plants. We drank elderflower cordial and talked about how it is made from the blossoms on the elder bush behind the house.

We planted a great variety of seeds, including rocket, carrots, spring onions and some tomato seedlings, as well as wallflowers and hollyhocks, labelling them and watering them carefully.

The residents watered and fed them, first with Tomorite and then with very smelly home made comfrey tea. We talked about pests – and discussed organic ways of dealing with slugs and snails. Residents learned how to pinch out, stake and tie in tomato plants.

When the courgettes were ripe they were harvested by residents and used in a courgette and butterfly pasta (recipe below) which we were told was very popular with staff and residents.

 On a rainy day we stayed indoors and discussed future plans. Two residents were very keen to plant flowers and talked about the flowers they remembered their parents growing. We took in seed heads – nigella, aquilegia, poppy, calendula and delphinium and talked about how plants propagate, then removed the seeds and sowed them on a bare patch of lawn.

The garden is lacking in wildlife, as apart from a newly planted bed at the front there are no flowering or fruiting shrubs. We talked about the importance of pollinators and took cuttings of lavender, rosemary and erysimum, which can be planted around the garden when they are larger to encourage bees and butterflies and other pollinators.

Anna has been very supportive and enthusiastic, and good at encouraging residents to attend. They are very keen to continue our gardening sessions after she leaves. They are not put off by the onset of winter. “I’ll just put on a jumper,” said one.

Recipe for Courgette Pasta

INGREDIENTS

Butterfly pasta, medium-sized courgettes, 2tbsp olive oil,  2 cloves garlic, crushed, pinch of chilli flakes, freshly grated Parmesan, extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

Cut the courgette into quarters lengthwise and then chop into smallish pieces. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the courgettes, garlic and chilli. Stir over the heat until soft and beginning to caramelise slightly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it well and return it to the pan. Add the courgette and Parmesan. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the timing instructions on the packet, or until al dente

Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and extra grated parmesan.

I haven’t put specific amounts but I’d allow at least one courgette and 100 grams of pasta per person – more if they are hungry. Bon appetite.

Master Gardeners are food-growing champions who share their knowledge with others to help them start to grow their own food.

They work across the boroughs of Camden and Islington, giving around 30 hours of their time a year. They are supported with training from national charity Garden Organic. Does this sound like you? Contact Liza if you would like to know more.

Master Gardeners can support vulnerable people to start growing their own food at home or in community gardens. Contact Liza for more details.

Read more Case Studies from Master Gardeners here

 

Aberdeen Park, Islington

Aberdeen Park, Islington

Aberdeen Park, Islington

 

Posted in Case studyComments Off

Do you love growing your own food and helping your local community? We’re now recruiting for volunteer Master Gardeners in Camden and Islington

Do you love growing your own food and helping your local community? We’re now recruiting for volunteer Master Gardeners in Camden and Islington

Become a volunteer Master Gardener and receive free training on food growing

We’re looking for experienced and passionate food growers in Islington and Camden to support their communities to learn to grow their own food.

The Growing for Health project is a partnership with Camden & Islington Public Health, with the aim to support vulnerable adults in becoming healthier and happier in their lives through gardening.

You will be volunteering your food growing knowledge and time to help a diverse group of people across the two boroughs. Beneficiaries are users of mental health services, residents of sheltered housing, socially isolated (elderly), and individuals with health issues related to diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

You will be matched with a community gardening club or project run by one of our partners. Click on these links to read Master Gardener Case Studies: Single Homeless Project St Lukes TrustGlobal Generation,   Urban Growth,  and Freightliners City Farm among many others.  Or you may already be supporting individual households in your neighbourhood.

If this sounds interesting to you or someone you know please have a look at the links below to find out more and get in touch.

BENEFITS of being involved:

  • Free 2 day induction training with Garden Organic on Sat 16th and Sun 17th May 2015  To see what last year’s training looked like Click HERE
  • Free ongoing organic horticulture training throughout the year. To see a typical training day click Here.
  • Belong to a vibrant network of volunteers providing peer to peer advice and support
  • Flexible volunteer role to suit interest and availability – 30 hours/year
  • Active support and resources from your local co-ordinator.
  • Placement with a community food growing project in either Camden or Islington – Click on these links to read Master Gardener Case Studies: Single Homeless Project St Lukes TrustGlobal Generation,   Urban Growth,  and Freightliners City  Farm

Join 700+ Master Gardeners helping thousands of people benefit from growing their own food.

Download and return  2015 Master Gardener Volunteer Application Form – blank before 8th May 2015.

Meet Phil – a Master Gardener with a strong sense of community (click here for 2 minute film)

Click HERE for more information on The Growing for Health Programme.

Read Case Studies of what our Master Gardeners have achieved

Posted in Blog, FeaturedComments Off

Do you know your pak choi from your mizuna? MGs test their knowledge at Training Day in Olden Community Garden

Do you know your pak choi from your mizuna? MGs test their knowledge at Training Day in Olden Community Garden

Master Gardeners and supported growers turned out in impressive numbers last Saturday for the next in the series of Master Gardener Training Days. This time the topic was ‘Preparing Your Plot for Winter’ at the beautiful Olden Community Garden.

Anton Rosenfeld led the day’s proceedings and started off with a roll call of all the different crops that can be grown over winter-  like garlic, kale, carrots, chard, broad beans and winter peas.  Discussion soon turned to ideas for filling the ‘hungry gap’ and ways to extend the growing season – with a ‘guess the leaf’ test on numerous different salad varieties.

Ximena from Hackney Growers Kitchen provided a mouth watering and much welcomed warm lunch of vegetarian curry and rice with raita and paratha. Yum!

In Service Training 29 Nov 2014

The afternoon session continued with Ximena giving a cooking demonstration on how to make pear and cardamom churney, as an example of preserving fruit over winter. It wasn’t hard to get volunteers to help :- )

Anton then covered the various different methods of protected cropping – fleece, cloches, cold frames and gave a practical demonstration on how to build a cloche.

And the day ended with a presentation on green manures for over winter growing, and a discussion in small groups of the various community projects Master Gardeners are involved in, to  share ideas and overcome challenges.

Feedback from participants included:

”It was wonderfully informative, and lots of fun”

”It was excellent, thoroughly enjoyed it and learned loads. A joy to be part of. Thank you”

”So much information on every level. Invaluable”

”Great setting, delicious food, perfect weather and I learnt a lot. What more could we want?”

”t was well-organised, thoughtful, skilled and in a fantastic site. The lunch was a magnificent bonus and warmed us up on such a cold day”.

Read Case Studies of Master Gardeners

In Service Training 29 Nov 2014

In Service Training 29 Nov 2014

In Service Training 29 Nov 2014

In Service Training 29 Nov 2014

In Service Training 29 Nov 2014

Posted in Blog, FeaturedComments Off

Are you passionate about helping people grow their own food? Become a volunteer Master Gardener in Camden or Islington

Are you passionate about helping people grow their own food? Become a volunteer Master Gardener in Camden or Islington

Become a volunteer Master Gardener and receive free training on a variety of growing topics

We’re looking for experienced and passionate food growers in Islington and Camden to support their communities to have a go at growing their own food.

The Growing for Health project is a partnership with Camden & Islington Public Health, with the aim to support vulnerable adults in becoming healthier and happier citizens.

You will be volunteering your food growing knowledge and time to help a diverse group of people across the two boroughs. Beneficiaries will be users of mental health services, socially isolated (elderly), and individuals with health issues related to diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

You may already be supporting individuals in your neighbourhood.  Alternatively if you want to get involved in growing projects run by our partners, we will offer you this opportunity. Our partners include: Freightliners City Farm, St Lukes Trust, Global Generation and Urban Growth among many others.

If this sounds interesting to you or someone you know have a look at the links below to find out more then get in touch.

BENEFITS of being involved:

  • Free 2 day induction training with Garden Organic on Sat 7-Sun 8th June 2014  To see what last year’s training looked like Click HERE
  • Free ongoing horticulture training throughout the year
  • Belong to a vibrant network of volunteers providing peer to peer advice and support
  • Flexible volunteer role to suit interest and availability – 30 hours/year
  • Active support and resources from your local co-ordinator.
  • Placement with a community food growing project in either Camden or Islington which include: Freightliners City Farm, St Lukes Trust, Global Generation and Urban Growth

Join 600+ Master Gardeners helping thousands of people benefit from growing their own food.

Download and return  Master Gardener Volunteer Application Form before 4th June 2014.

Click HERE for more information.

Read Case Studies of what our Master Gardeners have achieved

Posted in BlogComments Off

Grow Your Own at St Mungo’s – MG Alan’s story

Grow Your Own at St Mungo’s – MG Alan’s story

Alan Harvey joined the North London Master Gardener programme in May 2013 bringing with him extensive experience of working with people with mental health needs and drug additions.

As the founder of a therapeutic gardening organisation ‘Grow Your Own’ Alan joined the Master Gardener programme to expand his growing knowledge particularly of organic techniques and also to learn new ways of promoting food growing at a local level.

In 2012 Alan set up the ‘Patio Project’ at St Mungo’s hostel on Harrow Road, which started with seed planting workshops for residents.  He has since inspired a core group of residents to use the small garden on a regular basis and has taught them to grow maize, tomatoes, giant mustard, parsley and black kale.

There is one resident ‘Frank’ a recovering long term alcoholic, who Alan is particularly proud of, who has been profoundly affected by the food growing project. Alan recounts a time when, after explaining to the residents that ladybirds were one natural method of pest control for ‘white fly’,  Frank had then gone off and returned a few days later carrying a matchbox full of ladybirds which he had carefully collected by hand!  As a sign of appreciation of his enthusiasm Alan awarded Frank with a ‘Pest Control Certificate’ much to his beaming delight.

The aim of the project is self sufficiency, and for residents to take over the growing project themselves.

Alan is a key worker for St Mungo’s during the day, but all his time spent on the food growing projects is as a volunteer Master Gardener. His relentless passion to support people’s mental and physical recovery has not gone unnoticed by his colleagues and he has been recognised for his commitment to a number of gardening projects at St Mungo’s.

lady bird – a natural method of pest control for ‘white fly’

Not only that, Alan has become a successful fundraiser and has recently secured £577 to  expand the growing project to another St Mungo’s semi-independent house on Bravington road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his own words;
”I really enjoy getting people involved in the miracle of plants and watching seeds grow. Through nurturing plants people forget their problems for a while and that can be very therapeutic.”

More Case Studies from Alan’s project can be read below:

 

More Master Gardener Case Studies

Next In Service Training Day on Sat 22 Feb

Posted in Case study, FeaturedComments Off

TV fame for Master Gardener Robbie Samuda

TV fame for Master Gardener Robbie Samuda

Master Gardener Robbie Samuda was featured on BBC 1’s Insight Out London programme on Monday this week talking about his inspirational food growing project at Harmony Gardens which surrounds Broadwater Farm Community Centre in Tottenham.

One of the most diverse and disadvantaged areas in Britain with a history of poor health and the epicentre of the Tottenham riots in 2011, this oasis of green space,  incongruously set among tower blocks, now provides the long term unemployed with training opportunities to learn gardening and food growing skills under Robbie’s expert supervision. Children with special needs from nearby Kingfisher school also enjoy the wide variety of plants and edibles that the garden has to offer.

Well known for his knowledge and success with growing exotic crops, Robbie is involved in many other food growing projects across London in his role as a Master Gardener offering advice, support and mentoring. With a grant from Enfield Council he set up a food growing site at the Shires Estate in Edmonton which attracts between 5-20 volunteers each week – all residents from the estate. Robbie also set up a growing project at the West Indian Cultural Centre in Hornsey where he’s encouraging members, which include senior citizens, to organise themselves so they can continue the food growing activities he launched. And if that wasn’t enough Robbie also runs growing sessions with parents and children from Lancasterian school in Haringey.

Robbie with his dudi plants

exotic maize

From a Jamaican background, Robbie studied horticulture at Capel Manor and gets all his inspiration from his late grandfather who would enlist his help as a child to convert the front gardens  of local residents into food growing spaces. Among the many exotic varieties he’s successfully grown and won numerous awards for include Shark’s Fin melon, cho cho and dhudi.

When asked what his proudest achievement has been he replied:

‘’Being told it’s impossible to grow exotic veg in London and then proving everyone wrong when I demonstrate that I can!  I love to introduce new exotic varieties to London!

When he’s not gardening Robbie spins a mean disc as a reggae and ska DJ and is available for private parties!

Watch the BBC Programme on I Player 

 

 

 

 

exotic crops at Harmony Gardens

cho cho plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harmony Gardens is funded by the charity Back2Earth

Read more Master Gardener Case Studies

 

 

Posted in Case studyComments Off

North London Master Gardener Nat Mady wins Award at Garden Organic’s national conference

North London Master Gardener Nat Mady wins Award at Garden Organic’s national conference

Garden Organic has hosted a special awards ceremony at its National Master Volunteer Master conference to celebrate the achievements of its volunteer networks. Nat Mady, a North London Master Gardener was among the winners!

More than 215 Master Gardeners, Master Composters, Local Food Project Co-ordinators, Seed Stewards and other likeminded volunteers attended Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens site on September 28 for a day of activities.

After independent judges reviewed a record number of nominations, the awards were presented by Chris Baines, a campaigner for urban nature conservation.

  • The Innovation and Social Media Award was won by North London Master Gardener Nat Mady. Nat’s idea to set up an edible roof garden on the outside terrace of her employer’s office, along with a gardening club for employees to get involved in to maintain the space, are among the innovative practices she has implemented in her Master Gardener role. In Nat’s words:

I really like being a Master Gardener because it gives me an excuse to talk to people about food growing in every setting that I find myself in! I think that understanding where our food comes from is very important and it’s great to be able to encourage and support those who are curious to learn more and give it a go. Winning the award for the Edible Terrace garden means a lot to me because we were up against all the odds trying to grow food 3 storeys up in the centre of London. It just goes to show what you can achieve when you have a group of keen volunteers and a little bit of creativity!

  • The Achievement Award, kindly sponsored by Harrod Horticultural, is given to a volunteer who has gone beyond expectation in their activities and was won by South London Master Gardener Pamela Woodroffe. Pamela has been an inspiration to people living in Tulse Hill, Brixton, almost single-handedly engaging the community in growing schemes, including community composting and provision of gardening advice and information to schools and community groups.
  • The Master Award, kindly sponsored by VegTrug, which recognises exceptional achievement by a volunteer was won by Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE, of Stechford, Birmingham. Working with Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds project and actively involved in various community and school growing projects, Mrs McGhie-Belgrave is an inspirational figure in her community, encouraging and promoting the benefits of gardening and growing produce to people of all ages.
  • The Group Achievement Award, which recognises impacts delivered by a group in their community, was won by the Zimbabwe Association, who have nurtured the Sowing New Seeds demonstration plot at Spitalfields City Farm in London. The plot has produced armfuls of vibrant nutritious food. “The group have taught us about their traditional crops, cooked for us, sung for us and hugged us!” says Olivia Burt of Spitalfields City Farm.

Congratulations to all our entrants

Stella (middle), Zimbabwe Association
Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE, Sowing New Seeds
Gloria, Master Gardeners
Nat, Master Gardener
Paul, Master Composter
Colin & Guy, Master Gardeners

 

More award news

Our 2012 Conference Award Winners

Our 2011 Conference Award Winners

Local Food Heroes in Warwickshire

Local Food Heroes in Norfolk

and….

Master Gardener Programme shortlisted for national award

Read more case studies

Posted in Case study, FeaturedComments Off