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

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.

weaving

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/

‘Horticulture as a Medical Treatment’ – The Report

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As posted on my Winston Churchill Fellowship blog page (www.thetravellinght.wordpress.com), I have recently completed the report on the findings of my horticultural therapy travels to the USA and Canada. It has been published on the WCMT website and is free to read and download from: http://goo.gl/NroUSc