Project leader Rhonda, discusses what starting up the ESCAPE Discovery Garden has been like.
I took receipt of the ESCAPE Discovery Garden on 1st April 2019 and on that day, the project looked very much like a large patch of weeds, a dilapidated
bus and of course, being an English garden in April, it was raining. Six weeks later, the project has already grown and, driven by an enthusiastic team of dedicated volunteers who come from a myriad of backgrounds, that patch of weeds is beginning to look like a garden.
With six wheelchair accessible beds, three compost bins, two potting tables and not a partridge but a robin in a pear tree, the garden already boasts its first vegetables and herbs peeking out of the ground, as well as a forest garden, a polytunnel, the beginnings of a living eco shed, and we have only just begun. Donations of timber and tools from the local community and businesses, mean that we have built everything ourselves and with generous funding, we will soon add a cob oven and stoves to the garden and those newly planted vegetables will be used in regular Meet & Eat sessions.
“The ESCAPE Discovery Garden is growing into a space where these challenges can be overcome.”
Our unique tea shed – a stationary double decker bus – will soon be improved with the addition of sofas and dedicated quite spaces and what all of these nurturing spaces will provide is an opportunity. We already know from our steadfast team of volunteers that they are feeling hopeful, happy and fulfilled. We know that social and therapeutic horticulture
improves mental health and wellbeing and running these courses means that we can measurably improve knowledge, self-esteem and provide accessible routes into further education and employment to our local community.
Some of our volunteers may have faced loneliness, isolation, addiction, physical and/or mental illness and unemployment. The ESCAPE Discovery Garden is growing into a space where these challenges can be overcome and our participants can explore new, positive and meaningful challenges
as part of their community. As one participant described the project just this week “for the first time in a long time, life feels very hopeful”.
If you would like to find out more about our work within communities, then you can visit our what we do page here.