Published: 15:00, 26 April 2017
| Updated: 15:23, 26 April 2017
Exciting opportunities are ahead for a garden that supports people with mental health problems and disabilities, thanks to lottery funds.
The Abbey Physic Garden has been given a spot at the Hampton Court Palace Garden Show this summer and has launched a number of initiatives after receiving the Reaching Communities Lottery Fund, which is described as helping “people and communities most in need”.
It has allowed the volunteers and staff at the walled garden to build a new and much-needed cabin, launch a City and Guilds horticulture qualification, the Grub Club which will teach people to cook on a budget and the Ground Force Action Team which will send volunteers into the community to help families, the elderly and disabled with their gardens.
After winning a Swale in Bloom award for three years and picking up a certificate of distinction at Britain in Bloom last year, garden manager Suzanne Campbell says they are thrilled to be developing their services even further.
She said: “To be invited to Hampton Court is a fantastic opportunity to be a part of such an incredible event.
“Last year the show started giving little community projects the opportunity to be a part of the show, rather than just the big corporate ones, so we are honoured to be chosen.”
Horticulture teacher Antoinette Stammers has started to build the garden and hopes that people will come in before the show to watch it grow and develop.
She added: “It is a real team effort and we are all very excited about it. We want to get as many people involved as possible and hope people will come in before July to see what we are creating.
“Everything is made out of recycled or donated items. It is a garden on a shoestring.”
An old shed which has been used for refreshments, admin and a meeting area will now become a kitchen for the Grub Club and the new cabin will be an area for refreshments.
Explaining the Grub Club, Suzanne said: “We had outgrown our current building but we needed the funding to move forward, so the lottery grant came at a great time.
“The new cabin will become a new refreshment area and a place for members to do arts and crafts and the old building will become a kitchen for teaching people about healthy eating – the Grub Club.
“We want to show people how to cook on a budget. We want our members to grow their food in the garden, cook it on a budget in the kitchen and then serve it to customers.
“A massive thank you to Dave Payne and Barry Parkhouse who have been building the cabin.”
Tom Jewell is leading the newly launched Ground Force Action Team which will take small groups of people out into the community to work on gardens which need a bit of care.
Tom said: “Perhaps families need some help with the upkeep of their garden because they haven’t got time or someone elderly or disabled needs a bit of support. We want to help.
“It is also great work experience for our members here and engagement with the community.”
If anyone is interested in joining the Grub Club, which runs three days a week, starting the City and Guilds course or getting involved with the Ground Force Action Team, contact Suzanne on 01795 539915.