Bradford Works and NorthCliffe (NEET)

Last month I visited Catherine Russell, who runs Bradford Works. This project was set up by Shipley College who work in partnership with local organisations to deliver horticultural projects in the local area. It is a not-for-profit social enterprise supporting the development of local unemployed people into work through grounds maintenance and landscape management contracts.

Bradford works is now well established and has responsibility for many local greenspace areas, including places Bradford Council used to maintain but can no longer do so due to budget cuts.

They work closely with another social enterprise in the Shipley area, Northcliffe Environmental Enterprises Team (NEET). Also a charity, NEET is located at Northcliffe Nurseries. Starting out as “a couple of allotments and a polytunnel” the project has grown to occupy a huge site containing; large scale heated propagation house, commercial size polytunnels, a garden centre, cafe, wildlife garden, outdoor classroom (which is used by local school groups) and a wood workshop.

Making full use of these facilities NEET provides real work opportunities for in a genuine work setting for people with learning disabilities. People attending the project do so through their support packages and making use of self-directed budgets they choose to attend NEET, leading to a great demand for the service, which is surely the best measure of success.

Whether it sits comfortably or not we are currently in challenging and changing times in regards to our traditional health care, social care, educational and local authority services. What I witnessed at these services was how small organisations can find a role in providing these services to a high standard whilst understanding, including and offering opportunities to the people who are traditionally regarded as the most vulnerable in society.

Also worth noting is that before I returned I had a great lunch, in fact the best meal I have had out in a long time, at Saltaire Canteen Pay What You Feel (#PWYF) cafe in Saltaire. Using food items that supermarkets would have thrown away they create some great meals. There is no printed menu, as it changes depending on what ingredients they have available. Drinks are priced, in order to cover stock replacement, but for the meals you a given an envelope in which you pay what you feel the meal was worth or what you can afford. I fully recommend it. http://saltairecanteen.co.uk/

Bradford Works: http://divabradford.org.uk/organisation.aspx?ID=2713

NEET: http://northcliffepeopleandplants.org/

Tomato ‘Montserrat’ – A New Favourite? I think so…

Tomato 'Montserrat'

Tomato ‘Montserrat’

I know, I know, in my last post about Heirloom Tomatoes I declared my undying love for ‘Brandywine’ as my continued favourite (after growing it for the first time last year and confirming it this year), but then I encountered ‘Montserrat’. We grew this variety for the first time at South West Yorkshire’s NHS Horizon Centre Therapy Garden. must admit I knew nothing about it until it grew. The seeds were given to me, saved from their own crop, so I did not even have the seed packet to go on. I was a little dubious when I cut it open when it resembled more of a pepper than a tomato.

Tomato 'Montserrat'

Tomato ‘Montserrat’

But the flavour, oh dear me the flavour, it is the sweetest large tomato I have ever encountered. It roasted really well in the oven and then I put it with some gnocchi. Traditionally everyone goes for ‘San Marzano’ as the pasta sauce tomato, but I have never had any great success with them. ‘Montserrat’ is the best pasta sauce tomato I have had. You wont pick up another jar of pasta sauce from supermarket.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Selection of Tomatoes grown at Horizon Centre

Selection of Tomatoes grown at Horizon Centre

Just a short post, but the tomatoes this year have been very interesting and very very nice.

At the Horizon Centre therapy garden we have got eight different tomatoes growing in the two glasshouses. All of them are different varieties. A couple we have grown before, ‘Sungold’ being one of them. If you have never grown ‘Sungold’ and you like sweet cherry tomatoes this is the one for you. It is the sweetest I have ever grown and tasted. I can’t remember coming across it at all until a few years ago but all the major seed suppliers now sell it. It should be noted that it is not a Heirloom variety (which I do appreciate does not fit in with the post title, but while I was here I thought I should mention it).

Tomato 'Rainbow's End'

Tomato ‘Rainbow’s End’

The main purpose of this post was to inform you all of my new favourite tomato. I am not a fan of the ubiquitous cherry red in boxed salads, in fact, I can’t say that I like them at all raw. Last year, in my home garden I grew a few of the beefsteak varieties. This was mainly because I brought a few seeds back with me from America and Canada and a lot of the ones I saw that I had not seen before were of the beefsteak variety, such as ‘Great White’, ‘Rainbow’s End’ and ‘Mortgage Lifter’. I was very pleasantly surprised by ‘Great White’, they looked spectacular, their flowers were really pretty ‘double’ looking and most importantly the flavour was great, with a really thick and juicy flesh. Not sour at all.

Tomato 'Great White'

Tomato ‘Great White’

Therefore, this year we added ‘Rainbow’s End’, ‘Great White’, ‘Ox Heart’ and ‘Brandywine’. All of these are Heirloom varieties, so we can keep the seed and grow them again, which, at the moment, I would like to do.

‘Brandywine’ has been my favourite so far. A lovely tomato. The best I have ever tasted. Perfect flesh for slicing, huge fruits, juicy with plenty of flavour and excellent on a bit of bread with just salt and pepper (fresh basil doesn’t do it any harm either). You can see from the photo below why supermarkets don’t go for them as they don’t have the traditional “shelf appeal”, though that is quite sad.

Tomato 'Brandywine'

Tomato ‘Brandywine’

I can definitely recommend ‘Beefsteak’ and ‘Great White’ and ill update you with information about ‘Mallorquin’, ‘Mortgage Lifter’ and a couple others as we get to them. We are very much enjoying them at the moment. Just looking at them is worthwhile and peoples’ reaction to the size and look is great. They often do not realise that tomatoes have a variety of shape, sizes and colour. Tasting them is the best bit though.

‘Therapeutic Horticulture: Horticulture as a Medical Treatment’ – The Report

I have been meaning to do this for a while, in fact, I have been meaning to update the blog for a while. Not to dwell on what I should and shouldn’t have done, but here is the report I completed examining horticultural therapy practice between the UK and North America. It was funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

If all works as planned, it should be available to download and read by clicking on the link below, which will open the report as a PDF file.

Therapeutic Horticulture – Horticulture as a Medical Treatment

Renaissance Gardens – Francis Bacon Essay 1625

Strictly not horticultural therapy but I found this whilst scouring the internet. It is a transcript of Francis Bacon’s essay of gardens from 1625.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was Lord Chancellor of England, a philosopher and a pioneer of empirical science.

This essay inspired gardens as far a field as the Shakespeare Garden, Evanston, Illinois (much later than 1625 it should be said!).

You can find it on the excellent gardenvisit.com website, which has various information about gardens around the world and garden design and history. A valuable resource.

http://www.gardenvisit.com/history_theory/garden_landscape_design_articles/europe/essay_francis_bacon_1625

http://www.gardenvisit.com/