Gardening with young people July 14, 2023

Students at QAC planting sugar snap peas they have grown from seed

Meet Sally Watson-Jones, our Therapeutic Horticulture Assistant. Sally works with two groups of young people that visit Martineau Gardens from special educational needs (SEN) colleges, Baskerville School and Queen Alexandra College.

Sally explains why their time at Martineau Gardens is so important for these students, “Visiting us weekly challenges them to use the behaviours they are taught at college in a different place. Of course, for them as for everyone else who comes to Martineau Gardens, whether as a volunteer or visitor, the best part of being here is being surrounded by plants and nature with a welcoming, friendly group of people.”

Whilst the groups are here, they experience the full gardening season, getting to try their hand at all elements of rearing plants, following the growing cycle, from seed sowing to harvesting.

Our new cohort joined us in the first school term of 2023, in January it was a cold and damp start for the groups. They washed pots in our Keder House as the rain drummed on the plastic roof. It always sounds worse in there, except when it’s just as bad outside.

Since then, we have had some better weather and we made plans of what we will grow in the coming months. We’ve got the planting started, with radishes, tomatoes, chillies, spring onions, rocket, and lettuce seeds sown, and potatoes planted out into a big pot.

We’ve also spent time filling in holes made by the badgers in the woodland, and divided clumps of snowdrops so we can spread them through the Winter garden and hopefully enjoy even more next year. We have moved leaf mould, sieved compost, and mulched beds ready for planting. We have swept and raked up leaves.

The students work hard while they’re at Martineau Gardens, and being outside and doing physical work is an obvious benefit. And after working with the groups for a while, there is definitely some of that Martineau magic sprinkled over them. They leave with big grins on their faces, not just because it’s a lot of fun here, but also because they have achieved something. It might be they’ve seen something they’ve sown shooting up, or they’ve foiled those dastardly badgers for another week. Sometimes it’s because they’ve talked to someone they don’t know, or even asked them a question. It seems simple but it’s a small step closer to a more independent future.