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Want to grow your own fruit and veg at home, but not quite sure where to start? Master Gardeners are here to help!

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.

Categories: Advice, Gardening at home, Organic Gardening

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5 Comments

Reply Chrissie
10:39 AM on June 11, 2012 
Hi Sue,

Great post about Master Gardeners. We've been in touch with Fiona and have yet to hear back . Anne met Kate a little while ago, she was the former co ordinator who is now doing The People Speaks Project.

There are quite a few gardeners in Lewisham who could use their help. I hope we can work with them.
Reply Sue Luxton
5:07 PM on June 12, 2012 
Hi Chrissie
Thanks. What were you waiting to hear back from Fiona about? Let me know if I can help in any way.

If any readers want the support of a Master Gardener, they can contact us via this page of the website: http://southlondon.mastergardeners.org.uk/find-a-master-gardener/
all-master-gardeners/
Reply Nick
3:08 AM on June 18, 2012 
Hi Sue,

Chris is away with her family for a few days on the west country. She will almost certainly leap in once she is back!

Meanwhile I think I can guess the idea she wanted to raise! (Hope this is ok Chris!)

At a meeting we had a few weeks ago about the role Lewisham Gardens could potentially play, we considered the possibility of hosting/ sponsoring a rolling series of gardening evenings - small events held at a private house or at a community garden.

Topic suggestions included:
Talks about gardening for birds, bees and butterflies
Keeping hives
Keeping chickens
How to make a hanging basket
Making an onion and garlic home made pest control.
Pruning Masterclass: clematis/ fruit trees/ roses

These would be close up demonstrations, hands on if possible- all in the relaxed surrounding of a friend's kitchen or garden. The emphasis would be on tea, wine and cake- very much an intimate social event where people could meet like-minded neighbours.

Master Gardeners were on the list of groups we could consult with about carrying this out.

What do you think- how likely is it that Master Gardeners would be in interested?
Reply Philip
2:26 PM on June 19, 2012 
Nick says...
Hi Sue,

Chris is away with her family for a few days on the west country. She will almost certainly leap in once she is back!

Meanwhile I think I can guess the idea she wanted to raise! (Hope this is ok Chris!)

At a meeting we had a few weeks ago about the role Lewisham Gardens could potentially play, we considered the possibility of hosting/ sponsoring a rolling series of gardening evenings - small events held at a private house or at a community garden.

Topic suggestions included:
Talks about gardening for birds, bees and butterflies
Keeping hives
Keeping chickens
How to make a hanging basket
Making an onion and garlic home made pest control.
Pruning Masterclass: clematis/ fruit trees/ roses

These would be close up demonstrations, hands on if possible- all in the relaxed surrounding of a friend's kitchen or garden. The emphasis would be on tea, wine and cake- very much an intimate social event where people could meet like-minded neighbours.

Master Gardeners were on the list of groups we could consult with about carrying this out.

What do you think- how likely is it that Master Gardeners would be in interested?

Is it ok if I butt in here? I really like the sound of this Nick.
I would definitely attend a master class demonstration. My wife has been to a few cooking classes in baking pastries and pies as a result of that British Bake Off Show on BBC 2 , she had a fun time and learned a few things too. It was hosted by a pastry chef.

I think we would both enjoy an evening class - my vote is for a class on container gardening, or growing herbs.
Reply Lewisham Gardens
4:00 AM on August 29, 2012 
Just to say, Dee one of the volunteers at Home Park in Sydenham was asking about Master Gardeners. She hasnt recieved any esponse from the main website, and come to that neither did I!

Dee is great, she does the Home Park blog and gives gardening advice.
she also does voluntary work with several elderly ladies in Sydenham and picked up lots of donated plants for their window boxes this summer.

Ive got her email, or you can contact her at the Home Park site. http://homepark.wordpress.com/