Swansea Quaker Garden Project with Women4resources
Although we had been able to grow and harvest some vegetables for distributing to the women from Women4Resources last year, we hoped from early this year that we would be able to meet in person in the garden. However, whilst we were still limited in what we could do, we decided to have a go at getting everyone planting up some herb pots that they could have at home.
Carol from Women4Resources had done some fundraising so we had the funds available to buy some troughs, pots, compost and herb plants, although some of the herbs were sourced from our own resources. Carol delivered all the materials to the participants in advance and then we set up a Zoom session – Erica had never done planting demonstrations via Zoom before – it was quite an experience, thank goodness Carol was able to spot what the others were doing as Erica did the demonstration.
We planted a trough each of sage, thyme and marjoram or oregano (we had a mixture, the garden centre hadn’t had enough of the one), and individual pots of chives and mint, and we sowed coriander seeds in another pot. We have shared photographs on WhatsApp of the progress ever since.
We were really pleased to finally be able to get into the garden and start sharing the growing of the produce with the women. Garlic had been planted in the autumn, with a little more added this spring. Some crops were started by us in a greenhouse and then planted out by the gardening group and the women, other crops have been sown by the garden group and the women. We cannot often get many of the women in the garden at the same time, everyone has different commitments, but it is really good to be able to start sharing the growing and nurturing process. Last time we even got some help with weeding in our own ornamental borders, and everyone enjoyed the taste of some early strawberries.
One of the joys of working in the garden are the comments one hears from passers-by – we get told how much better it looks than it used to, how much people enjoy seeing the garden, how good it has been for the appearance of the area. And it was especially satisfying to be able to go out into the garden and pick flowers for the table at meeting for worship this week.
As in 2020 Erica planted seeds in her greenhouse to start them off ready for planting in our garden.
However, in 2020 lockdown meant that the women couldn’t come into our garden so we had to do all the planting and harvesting ourselves and Carol from Women4Resources helped and delivered the fruits of our labours to all the women involved. Hopefully this year the women can enjoy harvesting for themselves.
Here is what happened in summer 2020.
10th July – Carol and Erica met in the Quaker garden to check on plants and do some weeding. Chillies were starting to ripen and the beds of sweetcorn, beetroot, perpetual spinach, carrots and mooli were almost ready to harvest.
21st July – our first harvest – socially distanced of course! Mooli, carrots, beetroot, spinach, parsley – all ready to eat! Carol enjoyed delivering a sample of each to the volunteers, who were delighted and shared photos of some of the delicious looking meals they produced.
Some of what was cooked with the vegetables we had grown – carrot soup, beetroot falafel, potatoes with beetroot leaves – such a shame we couldn’t all get together for dinner!
12th August – Carol and Joan met for a bumper harvest and once again Carol enjoyed delivering bags of vegetables supplemented by some cucumbers and chillies from Erica’s garden. Lili and her son were pleased to try out the vegetables. He was especially excited about cucumbers!
19th August – This week Joan and Carol were able to harvest ripe sweetcorn and the first garlic bulbs, as well as more beetroot, the last of the carrots, more spinach, some coriander and a few chillies.
We were sent photos of chilli corn and home-made chicken and sweetcorn soup – both look so delicious!
26th August – another bumper harvest – once again we delivered a bag of fresh produce to 4 families. Yet more fabulous beetroot, all the garlic, lots of chillies, spinach, coriander and nasturtiums. You can eat the flowers and the leaves of nasturtiums!
9th September – another harvest of beetroot, spinach, herbs and 80 (yes 80!) green chillies! Plus a few red ones! And the first apples were ready to pick – DELICIOUS!
Some quotes from the project:
Lubna: “The vegetables are all the time very nice and fresh, we enjoyed a lot and I tried a lot of new recipes with all the vegetables”. “My children love the corn!”
Lili: “The vegetables are all fresh, I really like to use them for making soup”.
“I used carrots, sweet corn and some tomatoes to make soup – did not add any seasoning!”
Funmi: “I’ve not seen fresh corn like this for years!”
“The spinach is very nice, not like from shops!”
“I can’t believe I am eating such fresh vegetables!”
Carol Shephard (Women4resources coordinator) September 2020, revised by Quakers Joan Darbyshire and Erica Thomas Spring 2021