Number One Allotment In Chiswick

Hugely popular project for adults with learning disabilities


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The Number One Allotment organic gardening project recently celebrated the London 2012 Paralympics Games with a party for its volunteers and members.

Entertained by singing harpist Jharda, the party, attended by clients with learning disabilities and their families, was also an opportunity to thank allotment gardeners from the Dukes Meadows site for their support since the project started iin 2003.

The party was partly funded by a 'Communities Together' grant from Hounslow Council.

The Number One Allotment is based in Chiswick at the Duke’s Meadows Allotments where the gardening team cultivate six plots in an area of around 750 square metres.

Members benefit from the challenges of growing their own food, and by being based alongside the wider allotment community, they develop gardening skills and a sense of personal achievement.

Changes are about to be made in the provision of social care for adults with learning disabilities, but John Hole, Chairman of the Number One Allotment Chiswick Trust says that at this stage, they do not know what impact this might have on their work.

"The Trust is greatly indebted to our committed volunteers, led by Geoff Boswell, who every Wednesday throughout the year organise the gardening activities and ensure that our clients reap the benefits of working on an allotment," he commented.

The project encourages clients:

- to learn practical gardening skills enabling them to grow their own fruit and vegetables, thereby raising their self-esteem and improving their quality of life;

- to develop communication skills and to work together as a team to perform specific tasks;

- to improve social skills through interaction with the volunteer gardeners and the local allotment community;

- to deal with situations they find difficult or stressful so raising their self-confidence

Every Wednesday, around twenty-five clients come to the allotment for an all-day gardening session and a few come for shorter sessions on other days. Clients are able to work on the allotment throughout the year and about sixty clients have worked on the allotment since the project started in 2005. The gardening supervisors and care workers motivate and guide the clients and help them to overcome difficulties.

The team grow a wide range of organic produce, including beans, tomatoes and peppers. They have even succeeded in growing grapes and aubergines in the greenhouse. At the end of the day’s work, the team pick any fruit and vegetables that are in season and everyone is given a share to take home. They also grow flowers and the allotment has a small wildlife-friendly garden.

The gardening team sell seedlings and plants to allotment holders to raise funds to cover the day-to-day running costs. From time to time, the allotment is open to the public providing further opportunities to sell plants and to publicise the project.

The allotment originally started out under the umbrella of the Chiswick Horticultural Society but in the last two years it has been organised by the Number One Allotment Chiswick Trust, a small charity set up specifically to run the project.


September 29, 2012

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