The Justlife Garden 2013 – A success story
The Justlife Centre is located on a spacious plot of land – some of which had previously been turned into a small allotment with poly-tunnel. These had received little attention for more than a year and weren’t producing any crops for the centre.
In the hope that a gardening project could be re-started on the land – which would provide learning and engagement for service users and volunteers and also enable the growth of vegetables that could be cooked and used in the centre, Justlife approached Debdale Eco Centre. With such limited staff capacity at the Justlife Centre and also in the absence of the necessary organic gardening expertise, Justlife requested that a member of Debdale’s team might come run a weekly organic gardening course, whilst helping us to plant up and develop our own land.
Debdale agreed to do this and organised for Marva to come to the centre every week for 2 hours to get things under way.
Marva’s enthusiasm and energy was very motivating for us all and a whole range of different service users got involved week on week in planting/ caring for and harvesting vegetables. We were amazed at the bountiful crops that grew on the land and were able to use these for meals that we provide at the centre – also to give people some of the vegetables to take home with them (where they had cooking facilities). One cooking workshop was run entirely outside with service users harvesting, washing and cooking the vegetables on the barbeque.
Whether people were involved in the extensive work that was carried out over the summer on the allotment part of the garden and also with the more decorative aspects of the garden, it was noticed and appreciated by everyone as we made use of the gardens for a whole range of different activities during the week. It was also noticed by our neighbours, many of whom would stop to comment on how lovely the gardens looked.
Our work with Debdale also lead us to do a hanging basket project with our local neighbours which helped us overcome some of the barriers that had previously been in place with people not being sure what we were doing, or why.
2013 was a fantastic year for the Justlife garden, something also recognised by Manchester City Council who will be presenting Justlife as joint runners up in the Manchester in Bloom awards this coming week and we are all tremendously grateful for Debdale’s part in making this possible for us. We very much hope that we can work together again as we look to making our garden even more fruitful in 2014!