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.

Bradford Works:



RHS Britain in Bloom – “Edible Britain”.

The RHS, in collaboration with Mr Fothergills Seeds is giving away 30,000 packets of seed to community gardening groups (of which there are estimated to be 2,000) to plant edible patches in public spaces as part of ‘Britain in Bloom 2013’.

More information can be found on the The Potting Shed blog:

Horticultural Therapy Films

I thought it was worth making a post on horticultural therapy films. I don’t think either has ever been actually referred to as being ‘horticultural therapy’ but they certainly are.

Grow Your Own (2007)

Excellent British made film about political refugees being allocated an allotment in Northern  England and their interactions with the local traditionalist allotment gardeners. It is more like a TV movie than a film for the cinema and has a considered approach (others might say “slow”). Anyway, I enjoyed it and it certainly worth watching as John Henshaw is always entertaining.



The IMDB page is here:

It is currently selling for £5 on Amazon.


Green Fingers (2001)

Based on a true story about a gardening therapy program for prisoners in England which stars Clive Owen and Helen Mirren.

Made by an the American director Joel Hershman who apparently heard about the story of six prisoners from Leyhill prison in England who won a gold medal at the Chelsea flower show.

I must admit I found it a bit obvious and scripted. The horticultural inaccuracies lead me to become somewhat detached from it.

Don’t take my opinion for it, have a watch of it yourself.

Back in 2001 the telegraph wrote an article about how the film came about and the link to the original story.


On Amazon:

BTCV (or TCV) Green Gyms Under Threat?

Today I attended a meeting with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, or The Conversation Volunteers (TCV) as they are now known (I still haven’t looked into the purpose of the re-branding) about their ‘Green Gym’ projects.

The idea behind the Green Gym is that you work on a TCV project for exercise and improve the environment at the same time. It is about being physically active and contributing to your local environment. In my experience of the Green Gyms local to Wakefield – Eastmoor, Lupset and Hemsworth, they offer much more than this. A place to be, people to be with, a role and healthy eating to name a few.

I am under the impression, but not quite sure why, that the funding for the Green Gym projects runs out in April 2013. I might be wrong, I hope I am.

In the current financial climate often many vulnerable people do not having the funding to access paid day services, so places like the Green Gym, which do not charge directly are invaluable to people. What we need is more like this, rather than less. Did someone mention “Big Society”?

I believe they are in a consultation process with services and service users at the moment as to how to take the project forward so I encourage you, if you have had any involvement or suggestions to get in contact with them.

Here’s hoping they continue as they are a much needed and valued.

The Conservation Volunteers:

Green Gym:

Find a Green Gym near you: