As it’s National Gardening Week (29 April – 5 May 2019), Emmaus Village Carlton companion Neil gives an insight into our Garden Project…

This year, we’re continuing our Garden Project – developing previously unused areas of the Emmaus Village Carlton site into places to grow fruit and vegetables. The harvested produce is used in the kitchen, providing food for Emmaus companions and as part of our Bistro menu. Any surplus is then sold to customers of our Home Store.

I’m part of the gardening team. The garden area is a really nice place to come away from the busy life of the community. It’s quiet and you can hear the birdsong. In the evening it is so nice for me to be able to nip over and water the plants; it almost feels like a meditation – time to get away from the stresses of the day.
At the moment there are eight of us working hard every Monday here – volunteers and companions. It’s a team effort but you also get a chance to do your own thing. It’s often hard work but there’s something about being in touch with nature; it’s just therapeutic. You put in a seed and then a few weeks later you’re feeding the community with it.

We’re growing everything from cucumbers, to courgettes and carrots. My favourites are the strawberries. We also have onions, garlic, rhubarb, tomatoes and will have pumpkins. We’re cultivating a herb garden too.

We do organic gardening – no chemicals allowed. A local horse called George provides all the manure for the garden! It’s so nice to taste the tomatoes we’ve grown here – they’re so sweet and taste so different to tomatoes from the supermarket.

In future we’re thinking of expanding to create an orchard, and maybe bees – we might make honey and jams. We’re learning how to stagger the harvest so that things are ripe and ready to pick at intervals throughout the year, rather than all in one week.

If you have green fingers and want to join us, we’re looking for new garden volunteers to join the team. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating plants, please get in touch with our charity by calling 01234 720826 or emailing [email protected]