Gardening during the Covid 19 Pandemic
In response to the current lockdown, we have amended how we work in order to keep participants and volunteers safe, whilst still supporting them as they face the challenge of being unable to attend their usual activities and socialise, which poses significant challenges to their mental and physical health. We have temporarily suspended gardening therapy sessions, but are keeping in touch with our participants through a weekly newsletter with photos and updates from the garden, ideas for creative activities at home, including both art-based and healthy recipe ideas. The newsletter also gives participants the opportunity to share photos and news of themselves with other members of the group, thus maintaining an important sense of belonging. In addition, the project co-ordinators are in regular telephone contact with participants to check in with them one-to-one and provide a listening ear.
In response to local demand, we have decided to use our large veg-growing area to grow produce for an organic veg box scheme for vulnerable residents in our community. The two project co-ordinators and a reduced team of five volunteers are working regularly in the garden to achieve this and, given the size of our 2 acre plot, it has been relatively straighforward to maintain social distancing. We will prioritise getting veg boxes to those who are most at risk and in need of home deliveries, including our usual gardening therapy participants. Our aim is to use the resources at our disposal - a large growing area and a team of experienced growers - to respond to a shortage in fresh locally-produced veg and demand for home deliveries, triggered by the pandemic. In doing this, we are also able to maintain the garden, so that it is ready for our gardening therapy participants when they are eventually able to return.
Last year one of our long-standing participants, Andrew da Costa (see photo above right) used his considerable skills as a photographer to produce a fantastic photographic record of the group’s activities through the seasons of the gardening year, with support from volunteer, Veronica Bell. Other participants have enjoyed coming up with humorous captions for the pictures. You can enjoy this vibrant visual record by using the link above or the drop down menu at the top of this Latest News page.
As a registered charity, Let's Get Growing is commited to keeping its therapeutic horticulture service available to all, regardless of financial circumstances. The majority of participants attending our gardening therapy days are able to access a personal budget or direct payment. Those who are not supported through the NHS can apply to our bursary fund, as we have a clear policy of welcoming all, irrespective of personal means.
The nature of the beneficiary groups with whom we work means that some charitable funding is therefore needed to support our work. We would like to express our sincere thanks to the Boundary Lane Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund, the Tynedale Lions, the Barbour Foundation, the Barley Hill Community Fund, Waitrose Community Matters and the Henry Bell Trust for generously supporting us in 2019.
We also raise our own funds through selling vegetables and fruit from the garden to the Angel Inn at Corbridge, who are keen to buy locally-produced, organic produce to create a fantastic seasonal menu. In 2019, we organised a 4.5 mile sponsored walk from Knitsley Mill towards Lanchester and back - this was an enjoyable day, culminating in a shared picnic and the majority of our participants completed the walk, raising £956 towards the project. We also produced our first ever calendar for 2020, using photos of the garden and surrounding countryside, taken by participants, volunteers and staff. We were all delighted with the end result, which looked very professional and brought in an additional £500 for activities in the year ahead.
Our wonderful Sanctuary building is now available for hire by third parties as an alternative workshop space or away day venue - please see photos below. The building has a newly-fitted kitchen, woodburner and the poshest compost loo you have ever come across! It's simple, cosy and the setting is truly idyllic. Cost £50/half day or £100/full day. All proceeds go towards maintaining the building to support our gardening therapy work. For more information on hiring the building or to check dates, do contact us