Bitten by the gardening bug
Posted on: 18 July 2016
It’s a dirty business, but a passionate group of men and women in Exeter are not letting the weeds grow long under their feet.
A team of people supported by Devon County Council’s Nichols Centre in Exeter have taken over a plot on the Stokehill allotments at Marypole Road.
Out have gone the weeds, broken plastic pots and stones, and into the freshly-tilled and fertile soil now grow a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables.
The Nichols Centre supports people with learning difficulties, and Support Worker, Phil Hutchins works with the ambitious gardening group. He said:
“We learned of the vacant plot last year. It’s fully accessible, and we jumped at the chance to take on the challenge.”
Listen to what Phil says below.
The gardening team have thrown their hearts, souls and backs into turning around what had become a rather neglected patch of uncultivated land.
It’s provided an opportunity for the team to learn new skills and they’re all enjoying the profound sense of achievement from seeing the smallest seeds grow up into strong plants.
Mike Archard is one of the gardeners. He said:
“I like it at the allotment. I’ve planted carrots and runner beans, and they’re growing really fast!”
Phil says it’s also great to see people they support grow in independence and confidence, and for people’s communication skills to improve through the gardening.
The group are well and truly bitten by the gardening bug, and they’re enjoying the fruits of their labour.
“Growing the produce is just brilliant, but we’re all eating it as well, knowing that we’ve grown it from the start, and it’s enormously rewarding,” says Phil.
The team have plans for the allotment, which currently has raised beds, a shed, and is fully wheelchair-friendly.
So proud of their achievements are they that the gardeners and the Nichols Centre have invited their friends and neighbours to drop in to the allotment today, Monday 18 July, to see what the group has been doing.
Councillor Stuart Barker, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“The team has shown real commitment in turning the raised beds into wonderful gardens of fruits, vegetables and flowers, and it’s clear that they’re enjoying the experience. The plots are a great place for people to develop their knowledge and skills, and with views high over Exeter, and with the peace and the quiet, I’m not surprised that the group are relishing the challenge.”
Councillor Richard Westlake, the Council’s local Member for Exeter Newtown and Polsloe, said:
“I welcome this brilliant initiative and give it every support. I’m sure that the team will make the garden plots a tremendous success.”
Listen to Phil explain:
Here’s a photograph of everyone enjoying the open day.
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