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A great end to a great project

A great end to a great project

Our wonderful North London Master Gardener programme, Growing for Health, has now come to an end.
The project ran from 2014-16 across the boroughs of Camden and Islington. In that time our volunteers recorded an amazing 3,199 hours of volunteering, delivering more than 370 food-growing sessions.
The Master Gardeners worked with people living with long-term health conditions, the elderly and socially isolated, those in treatment for drug and alcohol issues, users of mental health services and other vulnerable groups.
Using their expertise in food-growing, our amazing volunteers supported them to start growing food for better health and happiness. From pots on windowsills to fully-fledged kitchen gardens, the message was ‘everybody can grow something’.
Well done for all your fantastic work, Master Gardeners!
Volunteers were recruited, trained and supported by national charity Garden Organic. The project was funded by Camden and Islington Public Health.
Please see the website for further details and some of our best bits and pictures.
http://northlondon.mastergardeners.org.uk/
Garden Organic runs community engagement programmes around the country bringing organic growing to people in towns, cities and rural areas; working with a range of partners from local authorities to housing associations to philathropic foundations.
For more information about how we work with partners, please contact Liza Scholefield lscholefield@gardenorganic.org.uk

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Summer Planting and Strawberries for final session on Clyde Road

Summer Planting and Strawberries for final session on Clyde Road

The morning grey skies cleared just in time for us to get everything ready for the main growing season. Before the session officially started, Ciaran and Charles were already setting up with an array of lush plants ready to go in the two communal beds.

We tidied up the bed on Fairweather Close, and got it ready for the summer plants. Denis and his brother were also on hand to help out on the bed, and draw some pictures to decorate the potting shed.

First went in a bean wigwag to support the runner beans, which had been growing in the potting shed for a while now. They’d started climbing onto each other, so we had a bit of fun gently separating them. Lots of nasturtiums went in around the base as a companion plant to deter the aphids from the runner beans.

Six cherry tomato cordons were planted in deeply with some pot marigolds dividing them. These need training up canes so they thrive and are easier to harvest. A courgette plant went in after digging in some extra compost, as they are very hungry, but productive plants. Some bok choy seedlings also went in.

A few of the strawberry plants had started to produce fruit, so we mulched the ground around them to stop the fruit rotting and prevent weeds taking over.

Over on Elizabeth Cylde Close, Phil and Charles planted in a range of brassica plants – kales, calabrese, and some French runner beans and bush tomatoes.

It was great that Robert could also join us and we caught up with Kim and Litfiye!

This session was Garden Organic’s last on Clyde Road. The residents will continue to volunteer their time, support, and skills to keep the project growing. The residents will be holding weekly Saturday sessions this summer. Happy gardening!

“I wanted to say a really big thank you to an especially dedicated resident Ciaran and to Master Gardener Phil Guest who has been invaluable in his ongoing support for the project,”          Bex

Grow Clyde Road was a partnership between Garden Organic and The Peabody Housing Trust to launch a grower’s group among residents of the Clyde Road Estate in Tottenham, North London, made up of 122 properties.

The project consisted of a series of regular drop in sessions throughout the growing season covering a variety of growing topics like seed sowing, composting, container growing and exotic crops. The meet ups were led by sessional worker Bex Clarke with support from Phil Guest. Phil is a Garden Organic Master Gardener, one of a network of volunteers who will have years of food growing expertise to share. Residents also had the opportunity to share their food growing knowledge and enthusiasm with their neighbours.

The Estate is made up of a rich and diverse mix of residents from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and the growers group was intended to be a way to bring the different communities together in a fun and interactive way through a shared passion for gardening.

 Read all the Clyde Road weekly blogs here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Herbs, Spuds and Beetroot

Herbs, Spuds and Beetroot

After the morning rain, which was much needed, we got stuck into a couple of hours of gardening.

April is a busy time for gardeners, getting the soil ready, mulching fruit, sowing hardy crops in the ground, sowing tender crops indoors and last-minute planning.

The plot on Fairweather Close looked much better after last month’s workshop, with the soil in good condition, the herb strip thriving with new growth, bushy broad beans poking through, onions, garlic, strawberry plants, salad burnet and rhubarb. We did some careful seed sowing with three colourful varieties of beetroots, and some leaf beet, which will look beautiful, and is a great cut-and-come-again green leafy crop.

It was great to talk to some passing residents about the best way the harvest the herbs to use straight away in their kitchens, so many to choose from!

With the soil temperature warming up slowly, quite a few weeds needed removing with a hand trowel. Next month it should be warm enough to plant out the more tender crops such as tomatoes, runner beans, French beans, courgettes, squashes and chillies.

Inside the potting shed, there was little sign of any chillies, but the sunflowers and runner beans that Ciaran had sown in small pots were looking really healthy. Kim and her sunflower-loving granddaughter were really excited as it will soon be warm enough to transplant these outside.

Master Gardener Phil Guest donated some netting that will be used to protect the brassicas from being nibbled. A brassica bed is planned for part of the plot on Elizabeth Clyde Close.

The two varieties of seed potatoes that had been chitting in the potting shed for about six weeks were planted out by the herb strip on Elizabeth Clyde Close. These should be showing by the next workshop.

We are coming to the end of the Garden Organic workshops, with our final session this May. Do come along to plant some fantastic summer crops and join the gardening group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Read all the Clyde Road weekly blogs here

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Growing space now ready for planting at Haverstock Hill Gardening Group!

Growing space now ready for planting at Haverstock Hill Gardening Group!

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.

180 Haverstock Hill, St Mungos Broadway Gardening Group

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

 More Background

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

180 Haverstock Hill, St Mungos Broadway Gardening Group

180 Haverstock Hill, St Mungos Broadway Gardening Group

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Looking forward to harvest time at The Conway House Gardening Group

Looking forward to harvest time at The Conway House Gardening Group

Gosia Glinska, Work and Learning Mentor at Conway House, a  Sheltered Housing scheme run by Saphire Independent Housing shares the latest progress of their gardening group and the welcome involvement of Master Gardener Helene Guild.

”Up until September 2014 the garden of our hostel was underused and crying out for attention,  so I spoke to some of the residents about the idea of developing the garden into a more attractive and inspiring space. I was delighted when a few people  expressed an interest in getting involved in a gardening activity even though some had never been involved in any form of gardening before.

I had been recommended to get in touch with The North London Master Gardeners Programme and spoke to Nynke Brett the Programme Co-ordinator to explain our intention to set up a regular gardening group.

I then organised a planning meeting with residents to provide an opportunity for them to express their wishes for the use of the garden space.  Many ideas emerged including growing vegetables that could be used in the cooking classes at Conway House. It was the first time the group were going to have the opportunity to gain ‘hands on’ food growing experience. We were quite excited!

Conway House Gardening Group

In September 2014 volunteer Master Gardener Helene Guild joined the gardening group and set about preparing the garden for growing. Ever since then, Helene has been leading weekly sessions with residents who meet for a few hours each time. 

Residents have learned how to recycle garden waste by using a compost bin and how to build a mini greenhouse from discarded materials like off cut wood.  A  number of sturdy planters with wheels were built and in them we planted garlic, onion and shallots. We also learned woodwork skills and watched some ‘How To’ videos on growing potatoes and sweet peas.

In March 2015 a cooking session was held using pea shoots and fava beans grown by The Conway House Gardening Group. We felt so proud! And during the Easter week we planted potatoes as well as some Wild Flowers donated by the project ‘Grow Wild.’

 

Conway House Gardening Group

Part of my job is to go round knocking on bedroom doors each week to remind the residents to attend the sessions, but I know they enjoy it as feedback has been hugely positive. 

Some residents now use the garden every single day to check up and water the plants and vegetables. They have told us that being involved in the gardening group has helped improve their confidence and self-esteem, They enjoy the physical activity and taking responsibility for essential gardening tasks like watering and weeding.

The amount of food growing has definitely increased since Helene started, in fact no food was grown here before.

Quotes from residents:

I now eat more fruit. Before I never eat fruit;

My physical activity levels have definitely gone up since joining the gardening group. I now love going to the park and jog down there to use the outdoor fitness machines;

As a group the gardening has made us closer. We’ve become friends, it brings us together, and we are no longer like passing strangers;

It takes my mind off my own thoughts, as I don’t want to think about my past, I was on the streets, since then its helped me ‘think less’ and not worry;

I feel more confident, I wouldn’t have come down from my room if it wasn’t for the garden;

It’s relaxing, takes your mind off the madness of my past life of drink and drugs;

Best thing about the garden project is being outdoors and having fun!

The staff at Conway House would like to thank Master Gardener Helene for her hard-work; dedication and enthusiasm in helping us transform and develop our garden this year. She’s so knowledgable. Before she arrived the garden was a mess with long grass and weeds. It’s now un-recognisable and looks 100% better. We can’t wait to harvest our crops this summer! 

We hope to keep the gardening group going for a long time to come and I have registered on the Project Dirt website to keep in touch about relevant funding opportunities being advertised. We also hope to apply for an allotment from Camden Council. 

A big thank you to Public Health Camden & Islington and The Master Gardener Programme as none of this would have been possible without their funding and help,”

More Background.

Conway House is a modern 60 bed hostel providing en-suite accommodation for males with a range of support needs. The Conway House development also includes a Training Resource Centre which includes courses on IT and basic literacy skills as well  as a range of activities including  art classes, yoga, acupuncture and cooking. Referrals to Conway House are accepted from designated agencies in the Camden Hostels Pathway.

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

Conway House Gardening Group

Conway House Gardening Group

Conway House Gardening Group

Conway House Gardening Group

Conway House Gardening Group

Conway House Gardening Group

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MG Social Meet Up at Camden Arts Centre on Fri 27th March 2015

MG Social Meet Up at Camden Arts Centre on Fri 27th March 2015

We’re delighted to announce the next social event for Master Gardeners will be at the beautiful Camden Arts Centre.

This is a chance to get together,  share stories, plan joint activities and learn from your peers. You can also wander around the enchanting garden where are hellebores, daffodils and primroses out at the moment.

Please feel free to bring seeds to swap.

”Back to the fields” exhibition at the Arts Centre with a horticultural theme, will still be running and is worth a look!

The invite is open to project partners on the Growing for Health Programme and anyone interested in getting involved, as part of our regular meet up every few months, for us to share ideas about food growing, mentoring and supporting our commuity groups and households.

Time: 3-6pm – just turn up when you can

What to bring: seeds to swap

Venue and DirectionsCamden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, Camden NW3 6DG  (Closest tubes: Hampstead or West Hampstead or Train: Finchley Road and Frognal)

Look forward to seeing you there.

Read blogs from Master Gardeners Here

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Worms, Broad Beans and Soil

Worms, Broad Beans and Soil

Glimpses of sunshine made it through the grey sky to get us inspired for a busy afternoon of gardening on Grow Clyde Road last Saturday (14th March).

Lots of familiar faces came to greet us, Ciaran, Denis with his brother and two cousins, and Holly and Tracy who grew the wonderful sunflowers last year, and made the shed look beautiful.

Dedicated Master Garden Phil Guest, and local gardening enthusiast Charles were also there.

Grow Clyde Road

We started with digging over the soil on Fairweather Close, and forking in compost to give it some extra nutrients for the upcoming growing season. The kids painted lots of flowers inside the shed, and then did some digging, fascinated with finding worms! We also spotted the two rhubarb crowns, planted in November by the strawberries, coming through.

Over on Elizabeth Clyde Close the winter tares, used as an overwintering green manures, were dug in and the bulk of the plot prepared for brassicas with lime and ash.

After a well needed tea break, Ciaran showed us his blushing Oca, grown on his allotment last year. Oca is a New Zealand yam that has been exciting gardeners for the last couple of years due to its resistance to blight and other pests and diseases. We also did some planning for the plots and sowed three rows of broad beans on Fairweather Close. These were soaked overnight in water to encourage quick germination.

It really is time to get out in the garden! The next session will be after Easter.

Read all the Grow Clyde Road Weekly Blogs here

Grow Clyde Road

Grow Clyde Road

Grow Clyde Road

Grow Clyde Road

Grow Clyde Road

Grow Clyde Road

Grow Clyde Road

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Master Gardeners learn about Mental Health Awareness at Training Day

Master Gardeners learn about Mental Health Awareness at Training Day

Yesterday a small yet dedicated and very engaged group of Master Gardeners came together at Freightliners City Farm to learn more about Mental Health Awareness. Liza Scholefield, Coordinator of the Medway Master Gardener Programme also joined us for the day to share her experience.

The aims of the day were to better understand the signs and symptoms of people with mental health conditions and gain more confdence to work effectively with these target groups.

In their role as volunteer Master Gardeners they offer growing advice at sheltered housing, therapeutic gardening projects, communnity centres and other communal growing spaces. These projects are primarily targeting individuals who are socially isolated, have mental health conditions or long term physical ill health, and who would benefit from more physical activity, social engagement in their communities and a healthier diet through easier access to local food.

Trainers Dave and Lynette from MIND in Haringey guided the group through the different causes and symptoms of mental ill health, safeguarding issues and practical examples of situations that may ariseThey pointed out that 1 in 4 members of the public will face mental ill health and some stage in their life. Many of the supported growers in the Master Gardener Programme have drug and alcohol related conditions which were taken into account when considering different scenarios.

The group participated in a lively debate and discussion on numerous issues such as what was considered appropriate and inappropriate behaviour with client groups and what to do in cases of suspected psychotic episodes.

Despite the blustery and chilly weather, some members of the group were given a tour of the farm during the lunch break before tucking onto a delicious vegetarian buffet.

The day ended with a Mental Health Quiz to test learners knowledge and each participant was given a certiciate of completion to take home after the course. See photo gallery below of the day.

Want to know more about previous trainings?

See  Recent in-service trainings

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

 

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

In Service Training on Mental Health Awareness Feb 2015

 

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Potatoes, Chillies and dung!

Potatoes, Chillies and dung!

Latest blog by Bex at Grow Clyde Road, 21st Feb 2015

The first session of 2015 was bright but rather cold. There was lots of be done, tending to the beds with pruning, weeding and adding horse manure to the plot on Elizabeth Clyde Close.

This time of year is also great for starting off chillies indoors in a greenhouse or potting shed, and getting some potatoes sprouted before planting outside.

Denis was leaping about with his three cousins in tow, ready to help with the strawberry bed. Robert was keen to see us after the break, and Charles was also about, fresh from the local city farm with bags of horse manure.

Grow Clyde Road - February 2015

We set to the strawberry patch with forks to separate out the plants, it had all got rather dense, which is the natural behaviour of these most loved soft fruits. Twelve plants went back in with more spacing, and the rest were taken home by some of the residents. The other hangers on will need cutting back next month.

Robert and Charles got a serious workout over on Elizabeth Clyde Close digging some rather large holes and adding layers of horse manure to improve the soil structure and fertility of the bed. The green manures were looking good, and the garlic and onions that went in last year looked really healthy.

We sowed four very colourful varieties of chillies in the potting shed and set out two varieties of early potatoes – rose end up to allow them to sprout ready for planting.

The next session will on the Saturday the 14th March 2015, when Spring will be just around the corner!

Read all the Grow Clyde Road Weekly Blogs here

Grow Clyde Road - February 2015

Grow Clyde Road - February 2015

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The Abbey Gardeners receive a little help from Master Gardeners Maria Elena and Enza

The Abbey Gardeners receive a little help from Master Gardeners Maria Elena and Enza

Laura Wigzell, Over 50s Coordinator at the Abbey Community Centre shares the latest progress with the enthusiastic Abbey Gardeners. These activities form part of the Growing for Health programme.

”With the help of the Master Gardener programme, the Abbey Community Garden in Kilburn is now blooming marvellous!

In January 2014 we started using the Garden Room at our community centre for more activities for the over 50s. Despite having a big green space attached to it, this part of the centre was underused and very overgrown.

So in Spring 2014 a group of enthusiastic green-fingered older volunteers came together and cleared the community garden with a vision that it could be a beautiful retreat. But we needed a bit of extra help to learn how to make it a real community growing space and how to keep things growing every month. This is where the Master Gardeners came in. We had heard that they might be able to help us with local advice and support on growing vegetables and we jumped at the chance.

Abbey Community Centre

Master Gardeners Maria Elena and Enza have been fabulous. They have worked with our members every Friday morning, showing us how to do everything from planting edibles to teaching us about garden maintenance and how to water properly.

As most of our members are older, the support and enthusiasm they have shared has been invaluable, especially giving us ideas for and structure to our weekly gardening sessions.

The garden is now a place of real spirit. Every week all through summer people poured out into the garden to get involved. Men from the centre got involved to build vegetable planters and steps up to our raised beds from upcycled pallets and scrap wood. We’ve had plants, seeds, cuttings, tools, pots and soil all donated. The herbs and vegetables grown there regularly get used in our cooking and lunch clubs.

Every week is different and the community has really come together to make the garden into a place we are now all really proud of. Even as we come up to winter it is still being used for activities as varied as pumpkin carving and wreath making. And beetroot, kale and cabbage are still growing strong.

We are already excited about planning for spring and daffodil bulbs are already lying in wait to burst forth! In December we held a coffee morning in the garden with a slide show to celebrate just how much the garden has changed with the help of many hands including our wonderful Master Gardeners. Next year we plan do get a greenhouse so we can plant seedlings.

Exciting times.”

Read more about the Growing for Health programme Here

Abbey Community Centre

Abbey Community Centre

Abbey Community Centre

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