“I’ve been a companion at Emmaus Village Carlton for a year so far. During my time I’ve got really involved with the garden project here.

Right now I’m enjoying getting the planting underway. Some farmer friends donated some seeds and I also brought some of my own. I’ve got beds of potatoes, butternut squash and carrot seeds. There’s some rhubarb just starting out, and cucumbers as well. We’re growing runner beans and peppers too, in one of the polytunnels here.

I’ve been into gardening since I was a child. My parents used to grow vegetables and I’d help. Anything we didn’t eat ourselves, we sold to a local hotel. My life has taken me abroad too, so I’ve picked up knowledge about growing techniques from other countries including South Africa. I also spent quite a bit of time living in a mountainous area of France, and I learnt how to grow organically while I was there. Later on I settled in Milton Keynes and had a house with a garden, so I got to try out all the things I had learnt.

I like to experiment when I garden; I prefer to try new things rather than do everything by the book. It’s a bit like when you’re cooking and you don’t follow the recipe exactly, but you improvise. That’s how you learn and improve things.

I like to be alone when I garden. It’s very relaxing and it gives me space to think. I often go over early in the morning to water the plants; I listen to the birds. It’s so satisfying seeing the vegetables slowly growing. I’m happy when I get a good crop. It gives you that feeling that you’ve achieved something.

I enjoy the fact that the garden helps to provide healthy food for the whole community here. They get fresh fruit and vegetables because of our hard work.

I’d like to help expand the garden area; I want to plant on a big scale so we make the most of all the space. In future, it would be nice to think that customers could come to see what we’re doing. If we manage to increase our harvest we could sell more vegetables to the people who visit.”

Also for National Gardening Week 2021, companion Tony made a fab film tour of our gardens & grounds – watch the video here.

David's garden project gallery