|Posted by Sue Luxton on June 11, 2012 at 7:05 AM|
I'd like to let you know about a great scheme I'm involved in to support people to grow fruit and veg. Run by Garden Organic (the UK's leading organic growing charity dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food) , the South London Master Gardeners are volunteers who support households, families,schools, hostels and many other groups with growing fruit and vegetables.
Master Gardeners have from two to many decades’ experience growing (I'm definitely towards the lower end of this scale and sometimes feel a bit intimidated by the 'Master Gardener' tag, but hey!). What we all have in common is an enthusiasm to share our passion for sowing, growing and harvesting with others. Lots of us also enjoy preparing, preserving and eating crops too!
As Fiona Law, the co-ordinator of the South London Garden Organic Scheme says:
"More and more people want to grow their own for a healthy diet and lifestyle, money saving, access to greenspace, environment-friendly organic gardening, and contribute to national food security and growing skills. Everyone can grow fruit and veg; young and old, whether starting from scratch or gardening for years, using a windowsill, balcony, garden, allotment, orcommunity space. It’s exciting and rewarding wherever the seed is sown."
Each Master Gardener supports 10 householders starting out or already growing food, offering seasonal advice/visits, demonstrations, local community network, andother engagement. NB: One thing it's definitely not is a free gardening service - the household has to do the bulk of the work, but we're there to offer encouragement and guidance as needed. Householders then feedback their successes and problems. They’re also offered free resourcesas well as discounted Garden Organic membership and Grow Your Own magazine subscription. Each Master Gardener promotes benefits of growing your own through events, community groups, talks, articles,demos, and other innovative engagement.
I've been a little slow off the ground since attending my initial training weekend last Autumn, partly because a lot of my time has been spent helping to set up a garden project at a hostel for young women in Brockley. However, I've signed the hostel up as my first 'household' and am holding my first stall at Hilly Fields Fayre on Saturday 23rd June, where I'm hoping we can promote the scheme a bit more locally and sign up a few more interested people. If you'd like to know a bit more about the scheme and how to get involved, whether to get some support or perhaps to become a future Master Gardener, do pop along to our stall at Hilly Fields on 23rd June, or check out the website for further info.
The Master Gardener scheme is funded with generous support from Local Food (Big Lottery Fund), charitable trusts and local authorities.There are strong links to community growing in South London, in the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth (come on Lewisham!), and the fringes of neighbouring boroughs (Merton, Lewisham, Kingston Upon Thames, Bromley and Croydon). The South London Master Gardener programme started in June 2010 when the first cohort of 20 volunteers had their induction training. To date over 80 Master Gardeners have joined the programme. They’ve clocked up nearly 2000 hours with their volunteering, supporting over 800 people. They’ve also engaged with 6000 people in the wider community at events and shows.