Posted on 13 October 2015.
Croydon’s keen Master Gardeners completed their foundation course on the weekend of October 10 & 11 and are ready to get Croydon growing.
The volunteers are bursting with enthusiasm after their two-day induction and ready to give free advice and support to residents who want to learn to grow some of their own food. This can be at home, or in a community garden in the borough.
We enjoyed two wonderful cakes over the weekend – Master Gardener Lauren’s delicious apple cake and an incredible decorated beauty which tasted as good as it looked.
Master Gardeners are part of Croydon’s Food Flagship programme and will be helping and encouraging people to grow delicious, organic food and enjoy the open-air benefits of gardening and growing.
Training took place at the Old Town Youth Club, on Duppas Hill, and we are very grateful to Tony for hosting us with such enthusiasm and interest.
The volunteers are drawn from all over the borough, from New Addington to Coulsdon, to Thornton Heath. They soon built up a lively network, swapping tips, ideas and phone numbers. The induction course saw them develop their skills and knowledge, as well as identify their action plan to each support four new growers local to them.
We started with introductions and practised “selling” the benefits of different varieties of veg to new growers.
Next came a look at all the resources available to Master Gardener volunteers, co-ordinator support, membership of Garden Organic, factsheets, ongoing training, manuals and smart organic cotton polo shirts, socials, our social media outlets, and much more.
Part of the Master Gardener role includes spreading the food growing message into the local community. Two groups of volunteers held a friendly contest to set up a liveliest and most attractive event stall. There were banners and plants, leaflets and paper pots – look out for Master Gardeners at events throughout the borough.
Ways to grow food with little time, space or money followed and we rounded up with ways to share our volunteering achievements.
The magnificent lunches were provided by Sahara Quli and Mathew from social enterprise Mum’s The Chef, hot chickpea curry, pilau rice and samosas went down well on Saturday and delicious aubergine wraps, hummus and couscous were devoured on the Sunday. Thanks, Sahara, we’ll definitely be back!
On day two, Anton from Garden Organic took the volunteers through five simple messages to inspire new growers to grow organically. We also had a lovely and inspiring presentation by Josi from the Friends of Park Hill Park. Josi took us through the story of this hidden gem of a community garden and her welcoming and friendly talk was much enjoyed. Thanks so much, Josi.
After lunch we took a welcome walk down to Wandle Park community garden to meet volunteering and learning officer Tom, who gave us a potted history of the garden before returning for a summary and exciting quiz. Very tense at the end!
Garden Organic is working with Croydon Council as part of the Food Flagship Programme. The programme supports local people to cook and grow more healthy food in Croydon. New growers can be referred into the programme by a variety of agencies and organisations, please contact co-ordinator Liza for a referral form and more information.
Could you be a Garden Organic Master Gardener? If you have at least two years of food growing experience and a passion to share your knowledge with others, we’d like to hear from you. Contact co-ordinator Liza here or project officer Catherine on 07971 280 985 or email@example.com
Croydon Food Flagship is transforming how we think about eating and growing healthy food in the borough. More information here