It’s National Gardening Week (26 April – 2 May), a chance to celebrate all things gardening. We are very lucky to have a community garden at our hub in Ipswich, but it’s not looking at its best. We are using National Gardening Week to call for donations of gardening equipment, compost and seeds to help us transform our unloved garden into a green haven for our companions and volunteers to enjoy.

Emmaus Suffolk has a shop and community hub in a former pub on Dales Road, Ipswich, where we support people who are socially isolated, vulnerable or at risk of homelessness. We provides support, meaningful work opportunities and a safe space in which people can meet others and feel part of a community. We have plans for part of the former pub garden to be transformed into a beautiful green space for our companions, volunteers and staff to enjoy.  Work had already begun on the transformation but sadly some of the work was destroyed by vandals and will need to be redone.

To help transform these spaces, the we are asking for donations of gardening supplies, in particular compost and seeds. These can be dropped at The Dales between 10am and 3pm on Monday and Tuesday.

We also have access to a second garden area on the site which is currently being turned into a private allotment for our volunteers to enjoy and work on. It has been transformed from a neglected patch of grass into beds ready for growing vegetables in. One of the users of the Emmaus Suffolk hubs, Dave, has found working on the allotment has helped his mental health:

“I have anxiety and depression, but I find being outside and getting my hands dirty really helps. I come to Emmaus Suffolk twice a week and have really enjoyed getting stuck in and creating our allotment space. I get great satisfaction from watching the seeds grow, knowing we have achieved something.

“We’re currently making space to grow potatoes, beetroot and peas and have plans for much more. Gardening is not just great physical exercise, it’s good for the soul too.”

Claire Staddon, Chief Executive of Emmaus Suffolk, says:

“This last year has really shown us just how important access to green space is and how being outside in the fresh air can do wonders for both our physical and mental health. We want to create a space that can be enjoyed by all visitors to our shop and hub, whether it’s as a customer or someone accessing our services.

“If you have any seeds, compost or gardening equipment you would be happy to donate, we’d love to hear from you as our team cannot wait to get stuck in and transform our garden into a green haven for all to enjoy.”

National Gardening Week is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society. It’s the biggest celebration of gardening and raises awareness of the difference that gardens and gardening can make to the lives of everyone in the UK. This year the RHS is encouraging everyone to ‘Get Your Dose of Vitamin G’ by taking a few minutes each day to connect with nature.