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Master Gardeners – with distinction

Master Gardeners – with distinction

13 of our April 2013 cohort of MGs have been awarded the status of Master Gardener with Distiction.

They’ve successfully supported communities to grow their own food, and met, or substantially gone towards meeting the 12 month targets of:

  • supporting five households or groups
  • done 30 hours volunteering
  • had 50 food growing conversations in the wider community (at events or at the bus stop, with colleagues…)

And more than that, they are a super bunch who delight in supporting newbie growers and sharing the joy of germination.

In the view of the Master Gardener programme team at Garden Organic, these Master Gardeners have demonstrated sustained enthusiasm and commitment towards achieving every element of the volunteer role as outlined in section 2.4 of their manuals.

Role of honour

Brian Craig – Southwark and Wandsworth
Dee Carrott – Lewisham
Geraldine Kelly – Wandsworth
Joan Riley – Lambeth
Kate Sebag – Lambeth
Lesley Hayward – Wandsworth
Ling Yang – Southwark
Mark Richardson – Croydon/Lambeth
Nina Bruce-Tamakloe – Southwark
Rosemary Jeboo – Merton
Ruth Arnott – Lambeth
Sheran Ridge – Croydon
Stephen Thorpe – Lambeth
What gems!

Mark receives his certificate

Mark, Rosemary and Ruth were able receive their certificates at our extra training day on 8th February 2014, presented by Dr Moya Kneafsey from the Centre for Agriculture and Food Security at Coventry University, guest speaker.

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Philip is moving on…

Philip is moving on…

Our ever-inspiring leader and colleague, Philip Turvil, has left the programme and Garden Organic to take up a wonderful opportunity at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

We’re dismayed but very pleased for him, as he is a thoroughly decent chap and deserves to go far!

Philip clocked up an amazing 30 or more induction training weekends for new Master Gardeners across the country, and countless extra training days. He managed, mentored and cajoled Co-ordinators of the original four programmes included in the Local Food pilot programme (North and South London, Warwickshire and Norfolk), and developed posts for four more of us, Lincolnshire and Medway Public Health, Incredible Edible Somerset and a Midlands prison project.

Philip had been at Garden Organic since 2008 on the Food For Life Partnership and became programme leader for  the Master Gardener programme in 2010, really driving it forward and making it the great success it is. Philip goes on to become Lead Partnership Manager for Grow Wild UK,  a four-year campaign to bring people together to sow UK native wild flowers.

Scroll down to see a few pictures of Philip in action. Here is a small selection of some of the comments from the South London Master Gardeners:

He has been an inspiration for me with his dedication and hard work.  I found Phillip to be so enthusiastic and his talks compelling.

It’s been great fun being inspired and led by him in the Master Gardener programme. I have learnt a lot and as a result been encouraged to work with the young people, hopefully to breed a new generation of gardeners!

Thanks so much for the knowledge, enthusiasm, good cheer, dedication and waves of energy that you radiate.

…such an inspirational, enthusiastic and unique character…infectious enthusiasm and energy

As my colleague, Philip has been an exemplary programme manager with his support, encouragement,  attention to detail, hard work. I wish him all the best for his fabulous opportunity at Kew – lucky future colleagues!

Read about our recent national award – what a scoop

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Seasonal Fruit Garden Jobs

Seasonal Fruit Garden Jobs

If you are thinking that over the next few months there is little to do in your fruit garden…well think again! There is plenty of pruning to be done, and it’s a good time to make any structural changes to the fruit bushes and trees growing in your garden.

Here you can see South London MG Gloria in practising on MG Alona’s trees.

From planting blueberries to shaping gooseberries, from managing mummified fruits to identifying peach leaf curl, and from vine cuttings to sowing strawberries – you’ll have a list of inspiring projects as long as your arm (or extendable loppers).

Pruning, planting, checking for pests, diseases and disorders…it’s all here in a lovely, comprehensive guide on the Garden Organic website:

Seasonal Fruit Garden Jobs

Good Gardening!

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It’s Christmas!

It’s Christmas!

The MG team were delighted to show up at the Vauxhall City Farm this month for their Christmas Fair.  We were giving seasonal advice, and encouragement to get started for 2014. We have a nice ongoing relationship with the farm to attend their events. Always really nice interactions with families and anyone interested in the Good Life!

We had a focus on winter window sill growing. Visitors did herb transplants to take away in coffee cups – biodegradeable of course! Visitors also packeted up alfalfa seeds to experience the joy of germination for quick and nutritional sprouts in stirfries,  sandwiches and salads.

The farm had hens, stoats, rabbits and of course Trevor the Turkey, among many other animals, for all to see. And very happy they all looked.

It was also great to meet the Vauxhall City Farm team and have a good old chat – Michelle the ReinElf, Alex with Jemima (the stoat), Matt, Faith and Jo, and several other keen volunteers running a raffle, wreath making, toy and spinning stalls. It would be lovely to seek how we can link our volunteering and education and learning opportunities in the future!

click here to read about our National Award for Education and Learning from Local Food

and click here to read about the latest extra training day for our MGs

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Fruit and veg talk at extra training day – we never tire of it!

Fruit and veg talk at extra training day – we never tire of it!

On Saturday 30 November 24 Master Gardeners, Philip (Programme Manager) and Fiona (Co-ordinator) joined together for fruit and veg chat at the South London Botanical Institute in Tulse Hill, South London.

Cheerily delivered (how else?) Philip gave informative training on organic ways with pests, diseases, disorders and deficiencies, and our ever clever MGs chipped in with smart questions and their tips. We’d already been enjoying the delicious biscuits made by SLBI ‘stalwart’ member Sarah. And at lunch we were served by helper Lorcan a delicious, delicately-spiced tagine.

MGs gave 20 minute talks: Maria on the Horticultural Therapy course she’s doing at Pershore, Glenda and Paulette on their trip to an organic farm in Uganda, Joan on Hens at Home and her project to put them on the allotment, Kate on her experiences of ‘Bad Beekeeping’ and Helen on the ins and outs of compost toilets at community gardens.

MGs had seeds, garlic cloves and comfrey slips to share with the people they support. Julia who’s already started on the Food Growing in Schools: London project introduced herself and how MGs could develop their schools collaborations.

We also revelled in our Education and Learning Award, a beautifully made trophy. We’d kicked off the day with each MG’s fruit and veg highlight of the autumn: such a joy to hear all the learning and sharing that has been going on – click here to read the Autumn Highlights case study.

All in all a very happy day for us fruit and veg enthusiasts and I’m sure our households, schools, colleges, community gardens hostels and other places we support will feel the benefit very soon!

Read how the autumn term has progressed at Ravenstone Primary with MG Barbara

Come and meet us at Vauxhall City Farm’s Christmas Open Day this Sunday 8th Dec

Like our Facebook Page - more photos and stories there

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Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme wins national award

Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme wins national award

Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme is celebrating success after scooping the prestigious national ‘Education and Learning’ award, at the Local Food Awards.

Competing against education and learning projects from across England, Garden Organic impressed the independent Local Food Panel with their model for cascading growing knowledge, backed by a central resource – in the form of an online network. They received their top prize at the awards ceremony at The Lowry in Manchester.

Philip Turvil, Master Gardener Programme Manager, said:

“We are delighted that Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme has won such a prestigious award to celebrate the achievements of our volunteers and our team’s approach to finding and supporting such enthusiastic growing mentors.

“The Master Gardener Programme delivers wide-reaching benefits that go beyond just growing food. It’s also about a healthy lifestyle, community and improving the environment.

“We don’t want to just train Master Gardener volunteers the best way of growing a lettuce for lunch. We want to show them how to pass this information on to others in the community, to share their passion and experience so that everyone is learning from each other and feeling the benefits. It’s fantastic that this award recognises all the work that goes into achieving this. Thank you to each Master Gardener, our local partners, and Local Food.”

Mark Wheddon, Local Food Programme Manager, said:

“The Local Food Awards are a unique opportunity to celebrate and reward the dedicated people who are delivering some of the excellent projects we have funded. All of our projects deserve recognition for the work they do, but we are delighted for Garden Organic on their success at the Awards.

“Their inspirational work to create a team of mentors who share knowledge across the board with support from an online network, saw them edge ahead of their competitors.”

Find out more

Master Gardeners Rodney and Sue with the award!

About the awards

The Local Food Awards are an opportunity to recognise, reward and celebrate some of the hundreds of outstanding community projects that Local Food has funded since the programme opened in 2008.

All 500 Local Food projects were invited to enter the Awards in four categories – Small Grants, Community Food Growing, Education and Learning, and Enterprise. Shortlisted projects were put before an external panel in September, and the winners in each category were unveiled today during the Local Food Celebratory Event at The Lowry in Manchester.

About the Master Gardener Programme

Since 2009, the Master Gardener Programme has received funding from Local Food to develop a practical model for a volunteer support network to encourage and mentor people and communities to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and on local communal land.

This has involved the recruitment of a co-ordination team based in Warwickshire, London and Norfolk, who have trained and supported 475 Master Gardeners who have given 18,500 hours to promote home food production. The volunteers have impacted on the lives of 4,300 people in mentored ‘households’ and another 52,000 people through workshops and other support for local groups.

Today, thousands more people are benefiting from growing food with Master Gardeners thanks to commissions to start networks in new areas

Get in touch

Master Gardeners celebrating with the Award

Local Food Certificate and Trophy


L to R: Graham Smith presents the Award to Garden Organic’s Philip Turvil & Kate Newman

150 people from Local Food projects gathered at the Lowry, Manchester

Who’s who?

  • Garden Organic ( is the UK’s leading organic growing charity dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes, communities and schools. Using innovation and inspiration, the charity aims to get more people growing in the most sustainable way. Garden Organic delivers through renowned projects such as the Food for Life Partnership, the Master Composter and Master Gardener schemes, and the work of The Heritage Seed Library.
  • Volunteer Master Gardeners benefit communities with food growing advice. The enthusiastic mentors are fully trained and supported by Garden Organic. People taking part in the programme show significant health, social and environment benefits after 12 months involvement and continued positive lifestyle change after 36 months involvement.
    The innovative Master Gardener Programme began in 2010 with funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme and Sheepdrove Trust, together with local government in city and rural populations. There are now mentor networks in Warwickshire, Coventry, North London, South London, Norfolk, Medway, Lincolnshire and Somerset. Garden Organic aims to develop and sustain these programme areas more nationally to follow the success of Garden Organic’s Master Composter network.
  • Local Food ( is a £59.8 million programme that distributes money from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to a variety of food-related projects to help make locally grown food accessible and affordable to communities. It was developed by a consortium of 17 national environmental organisations, and is managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT).
    RSWT is a registered charity incorporated by Royal charter to promote conservation and manage environmental programmes throughout the UK. It has established management systems for holding and distributing funds totalling more than £20 million a year.
    The Big Lottery Fund
    ( is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding. It is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need, awarding over £4.4 billion to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since 2004.

Read more Master Gardener news or get involved

More from Garden Organic


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Fruit, veg, growing and waste management Indian style

Fruit, veg, growing and waste management Indian style

Some of our MGs go away to some interesting places but do they ever heed my exhortation to take photos of veg growing abroad and blog them?! NO. Anyway, here are my fruit and veg holiday snaps from the Himalayas.

I was full of admiration for the perfectly level terraced fields cultivated over generations on any bit of flattish unrocky landscape. Bulls recycle food waste and cows are given lovely forage collected from the mountainsides. And everywhere marigolds are an extra crop for devotional offerings, as garlands or to put in boats made of leaves with incense and a lamp to float on the holy Ganges at dusk. Ah.

local veg

loki and ‘pumkin’
terraced fields – winter wheat
veg prep table – pumpkins ah!
cow dung patties for fuel
Edible Bus Stop: pots and chillis


food waste management


terraced fields – winter wheat

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Congratulations to us! Top award for MG programme

Congratulations to us! Top award for MG programme

Congratulations to us!

The Master Gardener Programme has won the prestigious Local Food (Big Lottery) Education and Learning Award.

See a film with Philip Turvil, Master Gardener programme manager, and volunteers from the Warwickshire programme at sunny Ryton Gardens, the HQ of Garden Organic.

Local Food summed up the reasons for selecting the MG programme:

Competing against education and learning projects from across England, Garden Organic impressed the independent Local Food Panel with their model for cascading growing knowledge, backed by a central resource — in the form on an online network.

Since 2009, the project has received £674,254 in funding from Local Food to develop a practical model for a volunteer support network to encourage and mentor people and communities to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and on local communal land. This has involved the recruitment of a co-ordination team based in Warwickshire, London and Norfolk, who have trained and supported 475 Master Gardeners who have given 18,500 hours to promote home food production. The volunteers have impacted on the lives of 4,300 people in mentored ‘households’ and another 52,000 people through workshops and other support for local groups.


Look through our case studies to see some of the dedicated, inspired and simply marvellous work Master Gardeners are doing in south London (click)

Read here about our recent conference celebration of Masters volunteers at Ryton Gardens

Learn about our November round of Extra Training days to develop and mentor our MGs

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A smashing Streatham squash and apple harvest event

A smashing Streatham squash and apple harvest event

Community growing is followed by community harvesting and feasting and in Lambeth 2013 has been a bumper year.

Streatham Common Community Garden has been supported by very fine Master Gardeners, Kate and Joan in particular as well as Hilda and Gloria. The productive garden goes from strength to strength and is now able to employ part-time Co-ordinator Charlotte Dove. All very vibrant for the Lambeth and a great win for this Parks site.

Kate and Hilda reported back on the latest autumn event held on Sunday 20th October.


We had so many apples and pears, and so many visitors.  We feasted on the butternut squash picked from the garden that morning.  We also had soup from the garden and pumpkin jam, courgette cake, spicy swede cakes.  Also from the garden.  So many people joined in and helped out cutting up apples, working on the bbq and helping with the press throughout the day which helped make it a success.  One person commented that this was truly a community garden.  We all had a great time and left really tired.


I had a smashing time yesterday, meeting new gardeners, cooking squash and callaloo, drinking cider and more. The young men are enjoying the apple juice –very good for a chesty cough!! I was very pleased to see how the fruit orchard has progressed (Kate designed it – see link below); it seems like only yesterday, we were jumping around in our teams trying to complete our task of where to put what. I plan to hand press the grapes today and hope for the best.

Big thanks to Amanda Waite, community gardener,  for the photos.

Follow the garden on facebook and contact Charlotte

Kate has a long involvement with SCCG - read the story of her fruit garden design here

Read how Kate won a Green Blue Peter badge and was awarded the top Master Gardener award in 2012


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Award winning volunteers at Garden Organic’s national conference

Award winning volunteers at Garden Organic’s national conference

Garden Organic has hosted a special awards ceremony at its National Master Volunteer Master conference to celebrate the achievements of its volunteer networks.

More than 215 Master Gardeners, Master Composters, Local Food Project Co-ordinators, Seed Stewards and other likeminded volunteers attended Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens site on September 28 for a day of activities.

After independent judges reviewed a record number of nominations, the awards were presented by Chris Baines, a campaigner for urban nature conservation.

  • The Achievement Award, kindly sponsored by Harrod Horticultural, is given to a volunteer who has gone beyond expectation in their activities and was won by South London Master Gardener Pamela Woodroffe. Pamela has been an inspiration to people living in Tulse Hill, Brixton, almost single-handedly engaging the community in growing schemes, including community composting and provision of gardening advice and information to schools and community groups.
  • The Master Award, kindly sponsored by VegTrug, which recognises exceptional achievement by a volunteer was won by Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE, of Stechford, Birmingham. Working with Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds project and actively involved in various community and school growing projects, Mrs McGhie-Belgrave is an inspirational figure in her community, encouraging and promoting the benefits of gardening and growing produce to people of all ages.
  • The Group Achievement Award, which recognises impacts delivered by a group in their community, was won by the Zimbabwe Association, who have nurtured the Sowing New Seeds demonstration plot at Spitalfields City Farm in London. The plot has produced armfuls of vibrant nutritious food. “The group have taught us about their traditional crops, cooked for us, sung for us and hugged us!” says Olivia Burt of Spitalfields City Farm.
  • The Innovation and Social Media Award was won by North London Master Gardener Nat Mady. Nat’s idea to set up an edible roof garden on the outside terrace of her employer’s office, along with a gardening club for employees to get involved in to maintain the space, are among the innovative practices she has implemented in her Master Gardener role.


Congratulations to all our entrants

Stella (middle), Zimbabwe Association
Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE, Sowing New Seeds
Gloria, Master Gardeners
Nat, Master Gardener
Paul, Master Composter
Colin & Guy, Master Gardeners


More award news

Our 2012 Conference Award Winners

Our 2011 Conference Award Winners

Local Food Heroes in Warwickshire

Local Food Heroes in Norfolk


Master Gardener Programme shortlisted for national award

Read more case studies

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