Written by Jim Sykes RtN Lead
The first part of the lockdown had a varying degree of impact on our service users, but for the most part they all adapted to the change very well. Relying on various forms of social media communication which they were independently using prior to the crisis. This, together with my ability to maintain the sites, meant that on return we were quite quickly able to continue our activities.
Allotment Project Colchester
During lockdown basic watering and weeding were carried out and crops we had planted in Spring were nurtured and almost ready when we returned in late July.
This of course meant that we were too late to plant seeds for Autumn planting causing a knock-on effect to our activities, however we had cabbages, courgettes cucumber, tomatoes, and potatoes all through the summer.
Below you can see some of the team socially distancing!
We set about preparing plots for Autumn and Winter, redigging and incorporating Llama manure which comes from a local farm, and building anti butterfly/bird frames as both of these pests caused problems this year.
Below you can see the first three ready to receive netting.
This part of the year is being given over to ground preparation on our new plot which is now ready for planting We have made two cold frames using glass units from a conservatory roof and deconstructed pallets. This has been a brilliant opportunity for the service users to learn new skills particularly around project planning and working as a team, together with using tools and thinking!
We are in the process of training RtN specific volunteers under a programme developed by Jane and two of our service users have expressed keen interest. This will enable us to expand our groups further as we have a number of people in the queue waiting to join.
New Project: Braintree Allotment
We have been approached by Community 360 to help establish a Community Allotment at a site in Braintree. An exploratory visit has established that this is a very real opportunity to start an exciting project from scratch.
Beth Chatto Wild Garden
This very exciting project has come about as a result of our Wellbeing Day which we did last year. We have found a real partnership opportunity which potentially links us with the world-famous botanical gardens.
We have been asked to build dead hedges and create habitats around the Wild Garden area using expertise we have learnt from our work at Langdon and Halstead.
The first group will do a pilot on 5th November and we hope to follow this with fortnightly sessions following a successful trial.
Both Karalyn at Beth Chatto and ourselves are really keen to start this as the potential for a long and mutually beneficial relationship for our organisations and service users is immense.
Lockdown has been hard for many of our people but most have adapted to this ‘different’ time. I have been very impressed at the resilience shown by service users and our support team throughout the lockdown and can confidently say that we have returned stronger. We have some exciting and interesting times ahead.