In the last few weeks we have received some unexpected donations and secured funding to set up a pilot project at our site in Stevenage.
We received cheques from Stevenage Rotary and a local metal detectorist group call 3CCDG. Both organisations invited us to meet with them and made a presentation. It was exciting to be talking about The Red Shed Project to new people and receive such a warm welcome and positive feedback to what we are doing. We were able to tell the groups that their donations would go towards the final stages of building our dementia garden, particularly the cost of making the surface – which is currently rough grass – suitable for use with wheelchairs and those with difficulties walking. This part of the garden construction is the ‘game changer’ and once it is in place our garden can be utilised in full and we can host other organisations for garden workshops as well as increase the numbers in our own groups.
Our Garden Club has also launched, funded through Hertfordshire Community Foundation. The funding enables us to run the Garden Club on a weekly basis through the year until December. The Club will grow and maintain the plants in our garden and provide a supply of materials for our offsite workshops as well as work on some projects with the children at St Vincents Primary School. We are planning some events to include the families of Garden Club members and have already started growing some salad and edible flowers to use when we cater for these events.
So there is going to be lots of exciting things to blog about soon and in the meantime a very big thank you to Stevenage Rotary, 3CCDG and HCF!
Today was the last day of our crowd funding on Local Giving. Our Garden Appeal was to raise money to build and equip our site at St Vincents School. We are really pleased to have raised 93% of the funds we need, that’s a massive £7183.75. We have already begun to transform an abandoned corner of a school field into a garden that will be home to our Garden Club and provide a great space for workshops and social events for people with dementia, carers and families.
We have been shopping as we go and have now have a site clear of brambles and saplings…..and ‘stuff’. We have a Tool Shed – painted red of course – as well as an amazing Activity Shed that will enable us to work whatever the weather and will be a real hub for our gardeners. We have also purchased the wood for raised beds to make our garden accessible to all. It’s really only left to start buying the tools and equipment, from tables and chairs to seed trays. We have had donations from all sorts of people and organisations such as Stevenage Rotary. We have also received funding from HCF for a regular garden club which we are piloting from Monday 2 March to run for the rest of the year.
All this is of course perfect timing as Spring is most definitely in the air.
We have come a long way since June. We have been making some really good links with other locally based organisations who support those with dementia and we have been delivering workshops around the county. However, we still need to develope our own space. This is going to need funds, time and muscle!
We have set up a Local Giving account which means we can collect donations on line – check our the Donation button on our Home Page. Gift Aid can also be added where applicable which means extra funding from HMRC.
That’s another box ticked from our to do list, but today’s real celebration was the arrival of our tool shed – painted red of course!
Perhaps because it is a tangible start to our own garden, perhaps it is because we can clear all the bits and bobs gathering in our own homes and store them on site or perhaps, it’s because we just love a good shed! Whatever the reason, this little achievement feels like the best one so far.
This afternoon we led a workshop making Christmas Wreaths with Hertswise in Letchworth. We had a great time and made some glorious decorations, some wreaths and some table pieces. We had worried that we wouldn’t have enough greenery for the group but there was a mountain of lush leaves – all sorts of shapes, sizes and shades of green. The room smelled fabulous, especially with the sprigs of herbs and the fir tree twigs. Now we’ve all got a bit of the Christmas spirit!
This is a great workshop to run. It is very sensory and a lovely way to engage with the outdoors while keeping warm on a winter afternoon. It is also adaptable for any level of skill and even those that had never done anything like this before made something beautiful. The table pieces are good for those who are not so dextrose with the oasis making it really easy to create stunning displays that will last for the Christmas period and more.
At the end of the afternoon we all had something to take home and show off to family and friends – perfect!
We had a stall at the St Vincent’s Christmas Fair today. It was great fun. For sale, we decorated some pots and planted them with Cacti, Herbs and Sedums. We also took along our bespoke The Red Shed Project notice board to provide information about us. Our main aim for the afternoon was to get involved in our immediate community and to meet with staff, parents and students at the School. We felt like this aim was met as we were warmly welcomed by everyone and had a lot of fun. Our secondary aim was to cover our costs and again this was achieved and we ended up a stunning £3.20 in profit! Thankfully we are not planning on becoming a retail organisation any time soon!!
However, as any good organisation should…..we review and learn. We can now look forward to the Summer Fair with a better understanding that our main customer will be under 12 and the ‘Hot Buy’ will not be aromatic Herbs or stunning Sedum but the prickliest, hairiest and weirdest looking Cacti! As for the remaining plants, they already have a home on our new garden. The Herbs will be really useful for sensory activities. We will use the Sedum in activities too, they are great for propagation projects and making amazing living displays. Finally those Cacti – well with some TLC they will just get to be BIG prickly, hairy and weird and will make a return on our Summer Fair stall.
What do you get if you iron some leaves, add lots of glue and some grease proof paper? Amazing Autumn Lanterns of course!
We had a great time today with a large group (17 in all!) at Hertswise in Letchworth. They all got really creative and transformed the grease proof with wonderful leaf patterns. Now it’s dark they will use the battery tea lights to give a room an autumn glow.
We love working with this group. They have been meeting regularly for a while and have got to know each other and really engage and enjoy the workshops. We’re looking forward to visiting again in December for a Christmas Wreath bonanza.
….oh yes – you iron the leaves between sheets of kitchen paper to take out some of the moisture but keep the leaves nice and bendy for sticking…..just in case you were wondering!
For Halloween we have been carving pumpkins. Our Monday group made some traditional scary faces and had a lot of spoooooky fun.
Our workshop at The Water Gardens in Hemel Hempstead made use of the pumpkins as festive autumn vases and filled them with all sorts of colourful plants gathered from the garden.
It was a real treat to see how different each pumpkin looked and watch everyone being so creative and trying something. It was a great example of what is still possible and enjoyable even when you have a dementia diagnosis.
A full on day today – with a big thanks to Longmeadow Community Garden Group, Stephen McPartland MP and some extra hands from staff at St Vincent’s Primary School. Our plot has been cleared of brambles, saplings and a few other uninvited guests! We now have a blank canvas to start building our garden.
Even in the pooring rain it was a really positive experience to see the site being changed so much. It will still be sometime before we can do some real gardening there but it’s great to start the journey.
Following an email from St Vincents Primary School, we have received pledges of donations from some local Stevenage Borough Councillors.
This is a brilliant start to our fund raising to build and equip our garden.
Looking forward to receiving all those £’s from their locality budgets and making a start on making our patch of land a beautiful place to be.
This week we provided our first off site workshop at Hemel Hempstead. Residents of a local care home visited the community garden in the town centre. They enjoyed the beautiful sunshine as they filled painted planters with their choice of flowers and herbs. The feedback from the care home support staff and the residents was really positive and we are looking forward to seeing them all again. We have been told that one resident experienced a lift in his mood for a couple of days afterwards. This isn’t a surprise to us as we have seen the benefits from being in the garden before – however it never stops being wonderful to hear.
We have been booked for another workshop in 2 weeks time. This is a great start to our off site service.