By Nick Condron
As another year draws to a close with the arrival of December, the Garden has once again become a typically very wet and cold place to be getting on with all but the most essential of outdoor jobs. It’s time to value the warmth of our log burners once again, keep occupied undercover and perhaps take stock of all that’s been achieved.
After what’s been an uncertain couple of years, we have all been enormously heartened by the support we’ve received from the community and our volunteers at each of our open days. This year we had our most successful Spring Open Day, July Music Day and Autumn Falling Leaves Festival ever! We were delighted to welcome everyone back to the Garden and share in the enjoyment of all the refreshments, stalls, activities and entertainment as things got back to normal.
Importantly, the money we’ve raised has substantially boosted our Tim Mountford Memorial Fund. In turn, some of this has made it possible to employ our former KickStart apprentice Charley as an art therapist and support her on a fine art access course at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury, which she says has transformed her life.
Talking to our members in our arts and crafts project space, it’s resoundingly clear just how much they enjoy everything about all the different art projects that they do through the year. One particular highlight was going along to see their work on display in an exhibition at the Joseph Wales gallery in Margate, followed by a memorable picnic in Dane Park.
Other highlights at the Garden during the year have included:
All the fun and laughter.
Collecting apples from the orchards at Brogdale and pressing them at Falling Leaves to make delicious apple juice.
Harvesting the green hops grown in the Garden for the first time.
The huge pile of horse manure from the Thanet Disabled Riding Centre! Black Gold for the beds!
Our Dahlia imperialis or bell tree dahlia flowering at the very end of autumn.
Growing, drying and using the fava beans.
Learning woodwork skills to build a nesting box for birds, doing green woodwork and the enjoyable challenge of weaving daisies for Music Day.
Watching visitors to Falling Leaves create a unique public artwork by colouring in and signing sections of a Charlie Evaristo-Boyce drawing, that we hope to put up for auction.
Sitting in the Garden on an unseasonably warm October day for the Falling Leaves workshop helping others to make flower headbands.
Sowing and growing colourful, edible flowers to garnish our salads.
Cooking with herbs and other edibles foraged from the Garden.
Someone cooking and us eating lunch on a Friday with the team under the tree.
Julie’s chutneys and jam…exquisitely made from vegetables and fruits planted, nurtured and harvested by everyone who is involved in the Garden. The story of what the Garden Gate Project represents all in one jam jar!
All in all it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding year and we would like to wish you all the very best of season’s greetings!
That’s the sort of project that does make a long term difference to its local community.