Horticultural Therapy at Pennine Camphill Community

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In December 2014 I was invited to visit Pennine Camphill Community and its garden by Garden Manager James Lee and Transition Officer Anita Hepple.

Pennine Camphill Community is part of the wider Camphill Movement. The Camphill Movement aims to create community settings where children, young people and adults, many with learning disabilities, can live, learn and work together in an atmosphere of mutual co-operation, care and respect.

The Camphill movement is inspired from ideas of Rudolf Steiner (Austrian philosopher and social reformer) and developed by Karl König, the founder of Camphill.  It is based on the spiritual uniqueness of each person, regardless of their differences.

Pennine is a specialist college providing further education and support for young people who have learning difficulties. As their name suggests, Pennine is more than just a college, it is a community. “Many aspects of life at Pennine revolve around the five households which provide a home life for residential students and work and training opportunities for day students. Day students join one of the houses where they have lunch sharing some of the daily household activities.  Each house has a different character, depending on the blend of people living in the household at any one time.” (taken from their website: http://www.pennine.org.uk/)

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Pennine is located in the village of Chapelthorpe, between Wakefield and Barnsley in West Yorkshire and surrounded by nearly 50 acres of farmland and grassland which is home cattle, sheep and pigs and bees. As well as horticulture they offer a range of therapeutic and educational activities, such as weavery, woodwork, basket weaving, pottery as well as ‘tools for self reliance’ where students refurbish tools. Pennine’s approach aims to stimulate creativity and allow students to build a sense of achievement and develop self-confidence and self-esteem.

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The vegetable and fruit gardens cover 3 acres and consist of four very large vegetable beds, an agricultural sized polytunnel which is adjacent to a series of accessible raised beds made from railway sleepers. The garden also includes two new greenhouses which are interlinked by a connecting door which allows one area to be insulated and heated in winter. They also have access to an indoor work and storage facilties on the ground floor of the craft hub.

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Similar to the traditional Victorian walled kitchen garden the fruit, vegetables and salads are taken to the five on-site houses daily to produce seasonal healthy meals for the day students and house residents. This provides a clear end product for the students growing the produce. They also preserve the produce by freezing and creating items such as passata which are stored for winter use.

The organisation is always on the look out for community projects to be involved in which not only provides a change of scenary for the students but increases the profile of Pennine, the work they do and builds positive ties with the local community, projects such as growing sapling trees for the Friends of Newmillerdam who manage a local woodland.

In order to help to manage such a large site, and is the case with many horticultural therapy projects, the Camphill Community utilises local and live-in volunteers. The live-in volunteers, called co-workers, stay on site for a year and help to run the houses and learning activities. Currently James has volunteer from Colombia and South Korea who help with the garden projects.

To find out more about Pennine Camphill Community please visit: http://www.pennine.org.uk/

You can also follow Pennine Camphill Community on Twitter: @penniner

More excellent videos documenting the work being carried out at Pennine can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4vE43fV4KLJjPjREv6DR2Q

You can find how to apply for a student place please visit: http://www.pennine.org.uk/college/applications.php or phone our Admissions Secretary on 01924 255281.

To find out how to volunteer at Pennine please visit: http://www.pennine.org.uk/volunteering/index.php

To find out more Friends of Newmillerdam please visit: http://www.wdco.org/site/Friends-of-Newmillerdam-Country-Park/

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A Visit to Helmsley Walled Garden

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Last week I visited the horticultural therapy program at  Helmsley Walled Garden in North Yorkshire. Helmsley is set within the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and approximately 15 miles east of Thirsk.

The walled garden once served as the kitchen garden for the Duncombe Estate. The original kitchen garden was closer to the River Rye but after being flooded out was re-located to it’s current position. The garden was eventually abandoned in 1984 before the restoration began 10 years later to bring the garden back to life. At the same time Alison Ticehurst felt that the garden should be utilised for benefiting the local community and a healing garden and horticultural therapy project was pursued. In 2014, the garden celebrates its 20 year anniversary.

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The horticultural therapy service uses the term ‘Supported Volunteer’ to describe people accessing its sessions. There are currently 20 Supported Volunteers and approximately 100 volunteers helping to run and maintain the garden. The Supported Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the garden, with particular focus on the production and sale of plants to the general public. It is not a service for a specific disability or condition, all are welcome.

Helmsley Walled Garden does not charge for the service it provides for Supported Volunteers. The cost is covered by plant sales, entry to the garden (currently £5.50 for adults) and the on-site café. The service employs three part-time horticultural therapists and is run year round, with reduced hours over the winter months.

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On a personal level, I would dare to argue that such a great service which is open to a variety of people and in a fantastic settings should receive direct payment in line with other day services. I appreciate that is by no means as easy as writing that sentence. There are all the legal ramifications and obtaining ‘preferred supplier’ status with the local care authorities but I would be surprised if it does not offer a service in line with other services provided in the area.

The manager highlighted a major concern for the future was that rural public transport is being considerably affected by the government spending cuts, which has reduced services in the area. In the long term, this may hamper Supported Volunteers from being able to just get to the garden.

The garden is open to the public from April 2014 and I thoroughly recommend a visit, if only to admire the long perennial borders and large array of trained fruit trees. There is of course a lot more to offer from a horticultural point of view, including the Victorian glasshouses, but you will be able to feel fulfilment that your entry fee and any subsequent spend it going to help run and worthwhile and excellent service for people in the local community.

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For more information on Helmsley Walled Garden, its Horticultural Therapy Program and visiting the garden please visit: http://www.helmsleywalledgarden.org.uk/

Thomas Rivers – The Orchard House

Some of you may have seen Chris Beardshaw talk about Thomas Rivers and his recommended way of cultivating peach trees in pots on Beechgrove Garden this week. Well, I did a bit of scouring on the internet and found a free download, a scan of the original ‘The Orchard; The Cultivation of Fruit Trees in Pots Under Glass’.

Here is the link to the document: http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/thomas-rivers/the-orchard-house-or-culture-of-fruit-trees-in-pots-under-glass-containing-pl-evi.shtml (You can download the format you want at the bottom of the page).

Thomas Rivers was instrumental in the breeding of fruit varieties in England during the Victorian walled garden boom. Rivers’ original nursery fell into disrepair but is being lovingly brought back to life. Another visit to add to my growing list. More information on the nursery in Hertfordshire can be found here: http://riversnurseryorchard.org.uk

Croxteth Hall Walled Kitchen Garden

Ok, so not strictly horticultural therapy, but I had to write something about a recent visit to Croxteth Hall Walled Kitchen Garden in Liverpoool.

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It is not just another walled kitchen garden, and I cannot get enough of these anyway, but a vast and significant Victorian one with many fruit trees over a century old. Many of which are trained in the traditional espalier and cordon styles as well as some inventive shapes and arches. The well preserved glasshouses and heated ripening walls (with their smoking chimneys) are worth the admission fee alone.

The garden is run by Liverpool council and costs a very nice £2.50 entry for an adult and I thoroughly recommend a visit.

http://www.croxteth.co.uk/attractions/garden/

Helmsley Walled Garden – Yorkshire

A great walled garden in the heart of beautiful Yorkshire countryside (I would say that being from Yorkshire myself!). Not only does it look great but it is run by the local community and offers a horticultural therapy service.

It is definitely worth a visit whether you are interested in horticultural therapy or not. However, save space for lunch at the vegetarian vine-house cafe where they use ingredients grown in the garden.

There is a small admission charge.

More about the garden and it’s horticultural therapy programme can be found here: http://www.helmsleywalledgarden.org.uk/horticultural-therapy/