Local Food is now closed to new applications. For the latest updates, sign up to receive our newsletter using the link to the right.
Tuesday, 9th April 2013 | Posted by Philip Turvil
Dudi, lablab, calaloo, haloon, yard long beans, chana, mouse melon, cho cho, mooli, oca, West Indian thyme
Just some of the tender and exotic crops that over 100 Master Gardeners learned on their extra training days during February 2013.
Our volunteers were introduced to vegetables from a wide range of cultures including India, East Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean.
The training follows research by Dr Anton Rosenfeld in the Garden Organic project ‘Sowing New Seeds‘.
The team has worked with growers in the West Midlands and London to discover how crops that we may define as ‘exotic’ are possible to grow in the UK and indeed flourishing on allotments in the more multi-cultural cities and regions.
Our thanks to Anton for so many intriguing growing tips for our Master Gardeners to pass on to the families and communities they mentor to grow food.
Keen to grow? Find your nearest Master Gardener for free food growing support: http://mastergardeners.org.uk/get-involved/find-your-nearest-master-gardener/
Keen to volunteer? Become a Master Gardener in spring 2013: http://mastergardeners.org.uk/2013/01/08/spring-2013-become-a-master-gardener-to-help-local-people-benefit-from-growing-food/
Read about exotic groups here: http://www.sowingnewseeds.org.uk/
What’s that?! Exotic veg training for London Master Gardeners http://northlondon.mastergardeners.org.uk/2013/02/18/whats-that-exotic-veg-training-for-london-master-gardeners/
Veg on the Edge in Norfolk http://norfolk.mastergardeners.org.uk/2013/02/10/veg-on-the-edge/
Cutting Edge Veg in Warwickshire – volunteer training http://covandwarks.mastergardeners.org.uk/2013/02/26/cutting-edge-veg-master-gardener-training/
Thoughts from Master Gardeners
"Growing callaloo! I’m going to improve on my previous attempts using seeds I collected today."
"I will be raiding local Indian and Asian grocers for seed supplies and I really want my own lemongrass plant!"
"I’m inspired to experiment with chick peas, turmeric and lemongrass!"
"I love the thought that we are benefitting from the result of immigrants to this country bringing in their own vegetables, selecting those that grow best in this country and learning to grow them under British conditions, and perhaps giving us a head start in learning to adapt what we grow to different climatic conditions."
Saturday, 6th April 2013 | Posted by Philip Turvil
We’re delighted to welcome our new North London co-ordinator this week to recruit and support ‘Master Gardeners’.
This lively volunteer network mentors communities to benefit from growing their own food in Hackney, Islington, Haringey and Camden.
Nynke takes over from interim support by our co-ordinator in South London, Fiona. Thank you Fiona for your many moments.
And Nynke joins a team of co-ordinators with the national charity, Garden Organic. Each co-ordinator recruits, trains and activity supports Master Gardeners in a flexible volunteer role – and celebrates their achievements.
Nynke is very enthusiastic!
She has designed, set up and managed volunteering and mentoring programmes for social entrepreneurs, young people, and employees of large city firms. And most recently, for a new community food kitchen in Stoke Newington.
Nynke is certified coach and loves supporting people to develop their confidence to follow new pursuits in life, whether that’s food growing or any other new passion.
In her words:
“I recently acquired my very own woodland garden in Hackney (a rare phenomenon) and am relishing the prospect of my first growing season and spending time experimenting in my new potting shed. The main dilemma though is what to try first?”
What’s coming next
Well, Nynke will be out and about in North London.
Contacting lovely Master Gardeners trained in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for a catch up about the role and exciting spring ideas (once the snow melts). Read case studies here: http://northlondon.mastergardeners.org.uk/about/case-studies/
Recruiting 20 new lively Master Gardeners for training on the 18 and 19 May 2013. Please click here to get involved. http://northlondon.mastergardeners.org.uk/get-involved/become-a-master-gardener/
Looking for funding partnerships to sustain and expand the impact of North London Master Gardeners for 2014 and beyond. Overview here. http://mastergardeners.org.uk/get-involved/future-areas/
Get in touch with Nynke Click here to email or phone: http://northlondon.mastergardeners.org.uk/contact-us/
Thursday, 24th January 2013 | Posted by Philip Turvil
We’re looking for gardening enthusiasts to become volunteer Master Gardeners during spring 2013 to join seven networks around the UK.
Meet new people & share your growing knowledge
Join a 338 strong network of lively volunteers that support local people and communities to benefit from growing their own food at home and on communal land.
Please contact Garden Organic for details about the Master Gardener volunteer role and application in the following areas of the UK
*Subject to funding approval
Spring 2012 induction for 86 lovely new volunteers: http://mastergardeners.org.uk/2012/05/25/were-here-to-help-now-400-master-gardeners/
Your area not listed? We’d like to start new networks. Please click here: http://mastergardeners.org.uk/get-involved/future-areas/
Or contact Philip Turvil at http://mastergardeners.org.uk/contact-us/
Tuesday, 18th December 2012 | Posted by Philip Turvil
Heritage Seed Library’s Seed Officer, Vicki Cooke, delivered a series of engaging and thought-provoking day-long training courses for Master Gardeners during November 2012.
Local venues played host to the dissection of flowers from brassicas, identification of pollination methods, and practical seed preparation. This was all towards learning techniques for helping the households and shared growing spaces supported by Master Gardeners to save their own seeds.
Feedback from volunteer Master Gardeners
“The training was amazing, well presented and interactive. Also it was great to see familiar faces and hear their stories. Lunch was deliciousssssss… the packets of seeds and the garlic, most appreciated. Thank you.”
“Vicki was tremendous, a brilliant tutor. I am really inspired to spread the message about seed saving for sustainable London crops!”
Please visit this link to see photos and stories http://mastergardeners.org.uk/2012/12/10/seed-saving-spreads/
Saving seed is an exciting and money-saving way to complete the growing cycle. It lets you preserve your favourite fruit or vegetable varieties to grow again next year or swap with friends – a great way to get others growing.
Anybody can save seed and for beginners, the best crops to start with are peas, French beans and tomatoes. Read guidelines here.
Some of the highlights of learning for those who came along
“As many seeds have good longevity, if you want to grow for seed, you don’t need to do it every year. You can concentrate on a particular crop one year and a different one the next.”
“Finding out a lot more about veg that cross pollinate was fascinating and with limited space, I’ll take greater care over the variety(ies) grown of those plants where I intend to collect seed.”
“Leave your tomato seeds on the paper towel when you are drying them – just plant the seeds still attached to the paper in spring”
“Most commercial seeds are produced abroad”
“I’m going to introduce a seed swap”
“I spent my sunny morning reading the handout and my notes about why and how of seed saving. I’m feeling more confident about it now, I already have the tomatillo seeds in water to remove the gel.”
For more information on seed saving, go to the Heritage Seed Library http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/hsl/index.php
Read the latest case studies of food-growing across the Master Gardener Programme http://mastergardeners.org.uk/about/case-studies/
Friday, 7th December 2012 | Posted by Philip Turvil
Warwickshire Master Gardeners John and Sandy Young have won the Local Food heroes in the West Midlands!
John and Sandy Young beat all their competitors to be named West Midlands Local Food Heroes 2012.
On Wednesday, December 5, they were presented with their award by Alex Boys of the Big Lottery and Marc Lupson from Local Food.
Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme received a £459,709 grant from Local Food in 2009 to develop a practical model for a volunteer support network in Warwickshire and elsewhere to support people and communities to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and on local communal land.
Kate Newman, Warwickshire Volunteer Coordinator at the Master Gardener Programme, nominated John and Sandy jointly for an award in the summer because of their dedication to the project, as well as their passion, reliability, and ability to enthuse others about food growing. Kate said:
“John and Sandy have endless enthusiasm and passion to help others discover the benefits of growing their own food, and we are thrilled they have been recognised as Local Food Heroes.”
John and Sandy proudly display their trophy with Alex Boys from the Big Lottery and Marc Lupson from Local Food (right)
Working as a team, and with many years of gardening experience and composting knowledge between them, John and Sandy help with local school gardening clubs and attend events, as well as running a regular stall at Rugby Farmers’ Market, where they offer advice and support to local people. They give talks, run workshops and question time sessions, encouraging people to grow food at home – no matter how small a space they have to grow in.
Over the past two years, they have clocked up more than 600 hours of volunteering, and have supported more than 30 households to grow their own – offering young plants, demonstrating gardening techniques and helping new growers to make a success of their vegetable plots.
John and Sandy, who have been members of Garden Organic for 25 years, were initially shortlisted by a Local Food panel, and then competed jointly against two other West Midlands finalists in a public vote to decide the winner. Thousands of people across the country voted for a Local Food Hero, in one or more regions of England, by visiting the Local Food website.
Mark Wheddon, Local Food Programme Manager, said
“Since we opened the Local Food programme in 2008, we’ve heard any wonderful anecdotes about the fantastic contribution that members of the community are making to ensure the success of their local projects. So we decided to celebrate and recognise some of these unsung heroes by encouraging projects to nominate the ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
“We had a great response, and are delighted to present John and Sandy with this very well-deserved award. They are true Local Food Heroes, an inspiration to others and champions of the benefits of food growing. It is thanks to individuals like these that our projects are going beyond the aim of making local food more accessible and affordable, and are building community capacity across England.”
Chris Worman, of Ruby Borough Council, said
"John and Sandy are not only Master Gardeners but also Master Composters and I class them as ‘local ambassadors’ who are always happy to assist others in the growing of local, organically produced food. It is my pleasure to support and congratulate John and Sandy on this very well earned recognition of their enthusiasm and passion for their volunteering.”
There is even a video to watch Watch a video about John and Sandy http://covandwarks.mastergardeners.org.uk/2012/10/16/our-local-food-heroes-john-and-sandy-young/
Read more about Garden Organic Master Gardeners here http://covandwarks.mastergardeners.org.uk/
Thursday, 11th October 2012 | Posted by Philip Turvil
Encouraging people to grow more of their own food is not only beneficial to the environment but leads to improved health and wellbeing and creates stronger local communities, according to new Coventry University research released today.
In a study of the Master Gardeners programme run by the UK's leading organic growing charity, Garden Organic, researchers at Coventry University's Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS) and the Centre for Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE) found that those involved enjoyed an increased sense of community and improved life satisfaction, as well as having a significant impact on their food growing and consumption habits.
Through this new mentoring programme, Garden Organic recruited, trained and supported more than 400 volunteers in five areas - North London, South London, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Warwickshire - to become Master Gardeners.
These volunteers, aged 16-81, then worked with their local community to encourage more people to grow food. As part of their commitment volunteers then recruit 10 households to mentor in horticulture for a year.
The Coventry University research found evidence of real behaviour change as the majority of both volunteers and households grew more food and a greater range of food after joining the programme. 63% of volunteers and 79% of households have increased the amount of food they grow, and as a result a quarter of households and a third of volunteers were able to reduce the amount they spent on food each week.
A third of mentored households now report spending 3-5 hours a week growing their own food, with a further 50% giving it a go for 1-2 hours a week. It is not just the households that are learning more about growing food; over 95% of both volunteers and households say they have increased their knowledge about food growing through involvement with Master Gardeners.
As a programme built around a network of local volunteers, the Coventry University researchers were keen to explore any possible impact on community. 94% of volunteers said that they felt part of a community, with two thirds saying their sense of community had increased since being involved in the Master Gardeners programme. And the average life satisfaction scores for both Master Gardener volunteers and households has increased; from 7.4 out of 10 to 8.4 amongst volunteers, 7.2 to 7.8 amongst households.
Dr Moya Kneafsey, a researcher in CAFS and part of the University's Grand Challenge Initiative in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security, said: "For many years we've been told anecdotally that gardening is good for you as well as good for the environment. What these results show is how significant the impact can be in terms of health perceptions, life satisfaction and involvement in the local community. It also highlights just how important volunteering organisations and networks are in creating stronger, more engaged communities regardless of whether this is in an inner-city borough or a rural county."
Philip Turvil, project manager for the Master Gardeners programme at Garden Organic, said: "We have always felt that our Master Gardeners programme has wide-reaching benefits beyond growing food. It’s also about lifestyle, community and improving the environment. We don't want to just teach our Master Gardener volunteers the best way of growing a cabbage, we want to teach them how to pass this information on to others in their community, to share their passion and experience so that everyone is learning from each other and feeling the benefits. The outcomes of this research show us that this approach is working. By working with volunteers in their communities we’re proving that the initial challenges of growing your own food can be overcome. So if that first crop ends up slug eaten, rather than feel demoralised people look for advice and support instead of giving up."
The Garden Organic Master Gardeners programme is supported by the Big Lottery Fund's Local Food Scheme, Sheepdrove Trust and local authorities.
For more information please contact Hannah Murray
on 01727 737997 or email email@example.com
NOTES TO EDITORS
Garden Organic Master Gardeners programme
Since its inception in April 2010 the Master Gardeners programme has overseen 44,608 food growing conversations, supported 560 community events and mentored 1,834 households (4,053 individuals including 1,387 under 16s). More than 15,000 volunteer hours have been given to communities in North London, South London, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Warwickshire. Garden Organic has trained 449 volunteers and seen an 82% volunteer retention rate. The programme is supported by the Big Lottery Fund's Local Food Scheme, Sheepdrove Trust and local authorities. The Master Gardeners programme was devised around the model of another successful scheme also led by Garden Organic, Master Composters.
Garden Organic, the UK's leading organic growing charity, has been at the forefront of the organic horticulture movement for 50 years. Dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes, communities and schools, it uses innovation and inspiration to get more people growing in the most sustainable way. Garden Organic's charitable work delivers the organic growing message through renowned projects such as the Food for Life Partnership, the Master Composter and Master Gardener schemes and the work of The Heritage Seed Library.
Local Food Scheme
Local Food is a £57.5 million programme that distributes money from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to a variety of food-related projects to help make locally grown food accessible and affordable. It was developed by a consortium of 15 national environmental organisations, and is managed on their behalf by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT).
The research was undertaken by Dr Moya Kneafsey from Coventry University's Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS), the research centre which is responsible for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Grand Challenge Initiative strand of activity which examines how to create resilient food systems on a worldwide basis. In order to tackle this challenge head on CAFS recognises that solutions lie not only in the development of sustainable production technologies but are also concerned with the stability of food supplied and of communities themselves, the means by which people obtain food and aspects of governance, ethics and human behaviour.
The research was supported by Elizabeth Cheese at Coventry University's Centre for Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE). Research at SURGE focuses on bringing the social and economic aspects of regeneration together, helping society to achieve a more equal, just and sustainable society for the future.
The findings presented here were based on 215 questionnaires, 29 face-to-face interviews and 8 focus groups.
Wednesday, 10th October 2012 | Posted by Philip Turvil
Garden Organic volunteers have helped over 44,000 people and mentored another 4,000 householders to grow food since April 2010.
The 449 trained Master Gardeners have volunteered an amazing 15,000 hours offering free food growing advice and support in central London boroughs and three rural counties.
Every Master Gardener finds and encourages local residents and groups to start growing – and keep growing through the highs and lows of fruit and veg. Families and schools; windowsills and allotments. Whatever the weather
MASTER GARDENERS NETWORKS: APRIL 2010 TO AUGUST 2010.
* 15,024 volunteer hours helping people grow food * 82% (368) volunteer retention across five networks * 4,053 people in 1,834 mentored households (1,387 under 16s). * 44,608 food growing conversations. Each one counts * 560 community groups/events supported. Thoroughly enjoyable
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
Read case studies or click here to contact local networks http://mastergardeners.org.uk/about/case-studies/
‘Like’ Master Gardeners on Facebook http://mastergardeners.org.uk/2012/09/05/find-us-on-facebook/
See photos of new food growers and mentors on our Flickr collection http://www.flickr.com/photos/gardenorganic/collections/72157625741960433/
Discover the health, social, and environmental impacts of Master Gardeners after exciting research by Coventry University. Visit our news page from mid October 2012. http://mastergardeners.org.uk/about/news/
Volunteers are locally recruited and trained by co-ordinators managed by the UK’s leading organic growing charity, Garden Organic.
These lively networks are supported by the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme, Sheepdrove Trust, and local authorities in Warwickshire, North London, South London and Norfolk. Together with the NHS in Lincolnshire.
Many, many thanks to all the Master Gardeners for sharing their knowledge and inspiring stories.
Garden Organic is working with partnership organisations to establish custom networks of volunteer Master Gardeners in areas where there is the local need and local funding. All our models help people benefit from growing.
It’s very exciting. Read more here: Read about future areas: http://mastergardeners.org.uk/get-involved/future-areas/ Or find ways to get involved with your nearest network: http://mastergardeners.org.uk/get-involved/
With many thanks,
Philip Turvil Project Manager, Master Gardener Programme, Garden Organic, Coventry, CV8 3LG
Tuesday, 11th September 2012 | Posted by Philip Turvil
Garden Organic has sent out exciting questionnaires this week to the Master Gardeners and the lovely people they mentor to grow their own food.
We’re working with Coventry University to monitor and evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of the programme.
It’s very exciting with intriguing questions – and already intriguing findings from our autumn 2011 and spring 12 research. We’re announcing the findings in a few weeks…
Look out for your questionnaire in the post if:
We’re also planning interviews and discussion groups during September and October 2012
Click here to find out more: http://mastergardeners.org.uk/2012/09/02/have-your-say-this-september/
Monday, 20th August 2012 | Posted by Kate Newman
We recently nominated Warwickshire Master Gardeners John and Sandy Young as Local Food heroes, for their infectious enthusiasm and dedication to promoting food growing, composting and sustainability...........
John and Sandy Young have been Master Gardener volunteers with Garden Organic since our very first Warwickshire training course in April 2010. They work as a team and are extremely passionate about helping and enthusing others to grow their own fruit and veg.
They help with local school gardening clubs, attend numerous events each year as well as running a regular stall at Rugby farmers market, offering advice and support to local people. In addition they give a variety of talks, run workshops and question time sessions, always promoting the easy ways to grow food at home, no matter how small a space people have to grow in.
Over the past two years they have supported over 30 households to grow their own, offering young plants, demonstrating gardening techniques and helping these new growers to make a success of their veg plots.
We ask for 30 hours each a year from our volunteers, John and Sandy have clocked up over 600 hours of local volunteering – their dedication is really outstanding.
As volunteers they are totally reliable, always logging their hours on time, adding blogs to the website and attending extra training days.
They have many, many years of their own gardening and composting knowledge to share, and the fact that they give this knowledge away so enthusiastically and to so many local residents makes them real Local Food heroes.
Tuesday, 7th August 2012 | Posted by Philip Turvil
London 2012′s exciting ‘Local Leader’ campaign has captured the imagination of Garden Organic’s local champions after the West Midlands launch at Ryton Gardens in April 2012.
We invited over 4,00 of Garden Organic’s enthusiastic Master Gardeners to take part in ‘Garden for the Games‘.
They joined thousands of people nationwide helping their communities celebrate the Olympic and Paralypmic Games.
With the Games in full swing, here are some case study highlights from Master Gardeners:
Local Leader Mo
“The bunting from our village Jubilee celebrations is staying up for the Games!
“I’ve suggested all sorts of flowers that locals could plant to help celebrate London 2012. I’m always talking gardening and growing to people, in shops, dance classes, keep fit, as well as the hairdresses, where the hairdressers and their clients push bits of greenery under my nose!
“We’re having a BBQ on the 12th August which will be Game themed and the Garden Club is visiting my gardens later in August, so I’ll see how many I can ‘convert’!”
Local Leaders John and Sandy
Dunchurch Boughton C of E Junior School, Warwickshire
“We had enthusiastic pupils busy planting their Olympic Rings in car tyres lined with plastic.
“In the tyres from top left to right in the photo below are Ageratum (blue), Viola (black), and Nasturtium (red); then bottom left to right Tagetes (yellow) and Lettuce (green).”
Local Leader Susan
“I’ve spoken to lots of people about gardening for the Games, especially all the dog walkers and the women at the gym!
“I think I’ve made a ripple with some sort of competition between the neighbours, especially since I did my front garden bed of red, white and blue flowers. It’s now a race every time the sun comes out! I really need that sun as the petunias are refusing to flower…
“My neighbour got involved after saying ‘as you put the Olympic torch in your garden, I felt I should make an effort too!’ I’ll confess my torch was never meant to be that, but after they said that, I could see the effect! I have white lobelia at the top, but I think I will have to swap it for some yellow flowers to get the ‘flame’ effect…”
Click here to see photos and links to London 2012 http://mastergardeners.org.uk/2012/07/18/in-pictures-london-2012-local-leader-case-studies/