Blackthorn Food Project: The Past 12 Months
Article written by Becky Calcraft : The garden project at Blackthorn Good Neighbours has continued to go from strength to strength. Encouraged by awards received at Northampton in Bloom awards in Nov 2013, we took stock of what we had grown and made plans for what to grow during 2014.
Over the winter (2013) there was not much that we could grow outside, but we did plant several beds of broad beans and some garlic, which survived the cold well and brought us a bumper harvest in the spring of 2014. We enjoyed doing various nature-inspired and recycling crafts in the centre and garden.
From April 2014 we welcomed some new families to the group, and it was great to see the enthusiasm for growing things develop. One mum joined us for her first session and a week later she showed us photos on her phone of what she had done in her garden at home – making several raised beds and planting an array of vegetables – something that she had never done before. We had fun doing crafts and egg hunts in the garden at Easter.
- Helping in the garden at Easter, April 2014 (above)
As always, growing potatoes in bags was successful, and harvesting them was fun. We also grew peas, French beans and runner beans, and carrots, radishes and turnips proved popular with families. Spinach and curly kale also went down well with some families, and of course the strawberries and raspberries were quickly harvested and many eaten on the spot! We were less successful with our plantings of various pumpkins, squash and courgettes – despite starting them off indoors at home, the slugs got the better of us this year! We made up some beautiful hanging baskets to hang in the garden.
- July 2014 Summer harvest (above)
- Potatoes growing in bags (above)
One final development this year was planting up a bed in the corner of the garden with wildlife-friendly flowering shrubs and bulbs, helping to provide some privacy and bringing some more colourful flowers to the garden.
The food garden project run by Eco-Kids ended in August 2014 and Blackthorn Good Neighbours (BGN) no longer runs the children’s centre. However, BGN continues to work hard to support families and the wider community in the area. The community garden is BGN’s and they have spent some time making sure that it is cared for. They have just recruited a volunteer who attended the Eco-Kids sessions who is leading on keeping the garden in order. She is also about to plant some shrubs in the front area to make the building more attractive. She will be coming in occasionally over the winter but in the spring they aim to recruit more volunteers to support her and to have a regular gardening slot.
In addition, community events run by BGN all make good use of the garden. It is good to know that the garden will continue to be a community resource and will hopefully be producing more food in the future!