A SMALL group in Petworth has been quietly working away for a decade, sewing the seeds for success.
This year, the Petworth Community Garden will celebrate ten years of helping people from all walks of life to come together and enjoy the outdoors.
The brainchild of Kate Brickell in 2005, the tiny project has blossomed into a lifeline for young and old alike.
Kate said: “Petworth Community Garden is now entering its tenth year and getting a brilliant start to 2015 thanks to funding from the county local committee for solar panels on our shed, meaning we could have lights and power to extend our teaching capacities and run powerpoint presentations. And we could boil the kettle.
“Over the years we have grown and developed, becoming wheelchair-accessible, creating wildlife ponds, wildflower areas, a children’s garden area, and composting and water catchment systems.
“The group is a great way to meet people from all walks of life. Our youngest member is now nearly a year old.
“There are always activities and jobs for all abilities, and people are welcome to come and enjoy a cup of tea with us. It was a difficult year in 2014 funding wise, although our amazing community rallied together to keep us going.”
The group is seeking funding for a Thursday group for children with special needs, therapeutic days for adults and wheelchair-users with severe or specialised needs, its men’s shed and the ‘Plot to Plate’ project where volunteers gather harvest before taking it to a cookery school and learning how to make healthy meals.
Members also hope to write a book, A Year in the Life of our Community Garden, which will include organic gardening advice and recipes and information to help set up new community gardens.
On Tuesdays it is the ‘Grow your Own’ group thanks to the help of Sussex Community Foundation and Comic Relief.
Volunteers work together according to need and ability and enjoy soup for lunch.
Everyone then gets a share of the harvest at the end.
The garden is also working with Petworth food bank to offer opportunities for people to enjoy fresh produce while learning how to ‘grow your own’ at home.
Amy Wright and Damien Garrett are two of the young people who benefit from the garden. Damien was the first volunteer ten years ago, while Amy, from Fernhurst, has been going there for nine years. “I enjoy it, it’s relaxing and I’ve made some nice friends,” said Amy.
Phil Taylor, 65, is the ‘entertainer’.
He gives up his time to go along to help, and talk to the youngsters who use the garden. He said: “I’m not able to do much gardening, so my job is to be the joker, I’m good at talking to people. I also help in the shed.”
Lilia Lang, 44, moved to the town from Bulgaria some ten years ago. Struggling to cope as a single mother of two young children, she went to the garden to make new friends in the community.
And having worked for the environment agency, her skills became very useful.
“I don’t have a garden of my own,” said Lilia. “I was very stressed and isolated when I moved here. The group helped me with my children, who have practically grown up here.”
Lilia also helps run a recycling scheme in the town, recycling ink cartridges and food wrappers.
The men’s shed, which has currently ceased as it looks for funding, usually runs on a Wednesday.
A social and diverse group get together and make crafts which can then be sold. Richard Green, 45, from Lodsworth, helps run the men’s shed. “Being involved in the garden, I saw a need for a space for the guys.
“It really helps build people’s self esteem.”
For details email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kate on 07717462780.