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Free cooking course: Spalding Feb 2014

Free cooking course: Spalding Feb 2014

Due to popular demand, another free six week cooking course returns to South Holland.

From Friday 7th February 2014, from 10am – 12 noon at the Lime Court Community Centre in Spalding, the course will cover seafood, pasta dishes and recipes low in sugar, low fat sauces, batch cooking, healthy alternatives, cooking on a budget and basic nutrition.

What an excellent time to refresh your vigor towards your new years resolutions! Places are limited so book early.

For more information and to book a place, please contact the South Holland District Council Community Development Team:

01775 761161

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23rd Nov: Autumn Harvest Celebration

23rd Nov: Autumn Harvest Celebration

A day filled with an extraordinary diversity of workshops is to take place at our Autumn Harvest Celebration on the 23rd November 2013!

  • Wildlife gardening
  • History of preserving food
  • How plants work
  • Delivered by expert Master Gardeners
  • Presentations by local food champions

Lincolnshire Master Gardeners (plus one!), our Lincolnshire County Council Public Health and leading local community food partners are invited to join us for talks and a meal made from local foods in the fantastic setting of the stained glass-lit Auditorium at the New Life Conference Center in Lincoln.

New Life Center, Lincoln

This special day celebrates the Lincolnshire volunteer network as it successfully approaches it’s third winter, the work of our partners and inspirational local organisations with unique insights in community growing.

We warmly invite you to bring your own chutney, to share whilst we enjoy our local food feast followed by a cheese and chutney delight.

Master Gardeners can secure their ‘plus one’ places today by clicking here to email Rick.

Session descriptions

Mary Porter, who as well as being a Master Gardener, works for the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission, will help you develop a better understanding of our relationship to wildlife in our surroundings and learn more about growing for wildlife. This is followed by a practical session to sow some wildflower seeds for a mini-meadow to take home!

In ‘How plants work’, horticulture tutor, Dave Newman, will help you develop a basic understanding of plant biological processes and how external factors may be manipulated to maximise growth. The session combines interactive tutor presentations with sessions for practicing techniques.

Local and historical food writer, Polly Aron, explores historical aspects of food preservation and offers practical examples for food storage, just before we dig into a two course local lunch.

We’ve got more exciting things to announce here soon!

Facilitated by Lincolnshire co-ordinator Rick Aron
Rick has developed an insight into the positive benefits of community growing and the pastoral householder relationship across the county. Giving practical examples, Rick will highlight the best examples of the networks activities.

Places are limited
Seasonal seeds for Master Gardeners attending
Book today on ‘Autumn Harvest Celebration’
Exclusive course for Garden Organic Master Gardeners, their partners and network partners
Free attendance with RSVP.

Saturday, 23rd November 2013
9.30am – 4.30pm.
Refreshments provided.

New Life, Newland, Lincoln, LN1 1XD. Map here.

Contact co-ordinator Rick Aron to guarantee your place. Click here to email Rick. Please include any special dietary requirements and learning needs.

Many thanks!

Read more about Garden Organic’s Master Gardener training

Find your nearest Master Gardener

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Award winning volunteers at Garden Organic’s national conference

Award winning volunteers at Garden Organic’s national conference

Garden Organic has hosted a special awards ceremony at its National Master Volunteer Master conference to celebrate the achievements of its volunteer networks.

More than 215 Master Gardeners, Master Composters, Local Food Project Co-ordinators, Seed Stewards and other likeminded volunteers attended Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens site on September 28 for a day of activities.

After independent judges reviewed a record number of nominations, the awards were presented by Chris Baines, a campaigner for urban nature conservation.

  • The Achievement Award, kindly sponsored by Harrod Horticultural, is given to a volunteer who has gone beyond expectation in their activities and was won by South London Master Gardener Pamela Woodroffe. Pamela has been an inspiration to people living in Tulse Hill, Brixton, almost single-handedly engaging the community in growing schemes, including community composting and provision of gardening advice and information to schools and community groups.
  • The Master Award, kindly sponsored by VegTrug, which recognises exceptional achievement by a volunteer was won by Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE, of Stechford, Birmingham. Working with Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds project and actively involved in various community and school growing projects, Mrs McGhie-Belgrave is an inspirational figure in her community, encouraging and promoting the benefits of gardening and growing produce to people of all ages.
  • The Group Achievement Award, which recognises impacts delivered by a group in their community, was won by the Zimbabwe Association, who have nurtured the Sowing New Seeds demonstration plot at Spitalfields City Farm in London. The plot has produced armfuls of vibrant nutritious food. “The group have taught us about their traditional crops, cooked for us, sung for us and hugged us!” says Olivia Burt of Spitalfields City Farm.
  • The Innovation and Social Media Award was won by North London Master Gardener Nat Mady. Nat’s idea to set up an edible roof garden on the outside terrace of her employer’s office, along with a gardening club for employees to get involved in to maintain the space, are among the innovative practices she has implemented in her Master Gardener role.


Congratulations to all our entrants

Stella (middle), Zimbabwe Association
Eunice McGhie-Belgrave MBE, Sowing New Seeds
Gloria, Master Gardeners
Nat, Master Gardener
Paul, Master Composter
Colin & Guy, Master Gardeners


More award news

Our 2012 Conference Award Winners

Our 2011 Conference Award Winners

Local Food Heroes in Warwickshire

Local Food Heroes in Norfolk


Master Gardener Programme shortlisted for national award

Read more case studies

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Garden Organic’s National Volunteer Masters come together to celebrate growing people and plants

Garden Organic’s National Volunteer Masters come together to celebrate growing people and plants

Garden Organic has hosted its National Volunteer Masters Conference 2013 bringing together composting and growing mentors from across the UK to celebrate their achievements.

More than 215 Master Gardeners, Master Composters, Local Food Project Co-ordinators, Seed Stewards and other likeminded volunteers attended Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens site on September 28 for a day of activities to celebrate the work and achievements of the Masters Volunteers network.

A series of themed workshops took place across the day with subject areas including community composting, wildlife gardening, soil science and fruit growing advice.

Roger Key, Garden Organic’s Chair of Trustees, said

“For over a decade, Garden Organic has trained and supported volunteer mentors. This dedicated network of volunteers benefit communities across the country.

“The conference is a celebration of their achievement and an opportunity for us to acknowledge the dedication, inspiration and enthusiasm of the volunteers in delivering growing and composting activities into their communities and networks.”

Guest speaker Professor Chris Baines, a Garden Organic Ambassador and campaigner for urban nature conservation, provided an inspirational speech on the nature of the future highlighting the actions required now to protect our natural environment.

The National Volunteer Masters Awards Ceremony saw individual and group achievements across the Masters Volunteer Network recognised and rewarded within four key categories – Achievement Award, Master Award, Innovation and Social Media Award and Group Achievement Award. Read about the our 2013 award winners here.

Feedback from conference delegates

  • “Really well organised, brilliant venue, staff were so, so lovely”
  • “A very inspiring day! Shame it went so fast! See you next year.”
  • “Really enjoyed it, meeting people, speakers, groups and Ryton is lovely.”
  • “Wonderful presentation from Chris Baines.”
  • “Quite intense – lots of information crammed in (but good)”
  • “I genuinely didn’t realise there were so many ‘Master Composter’ or similar projects around the country so it was really helpful to see the bigger picture.”

Wonderful group of lively volunteers gather at Ryton Gardens.

Inside the group photo!

Early morning calm before 215 guests!

Garden Organic’s head of programmes, Margi Lennartsson addresses the audience

Garden Organic’s chair of trustees, Roger Key thanks the volunteers

Garden Organic’s new chief executive, James Cambell meets volunteers over tea and cake

Organic gardening expert, Pauline Pears leads a training session with volunteers

Coffee cups become plant pots

Masters with hens…

Workshop led by Ryton head gardener, Andi

Cutting the official conference cake…!

Group photos

New ‘Hens@Home’ mentors trained by Garden Organic at the National Volunteers Masters Conference 2013

Volunteers and co-ordinators involved with Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds project in growing spaces around England

Co-ordinators from Local Food projects gathered for a special workshop with Master Gardener Programme manager Philip Turvil (far left) as part of a Shared Learning Exchange visit. Co-ordinators were joined by lots of their volunteers


Volunteer Master Gardeners offer food growing advice to local people and communities. The volunteers are fully trained and supported by Garden Organic, the UK’s leading organic growing charity.

This programme is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme, Public Health, Local Authorites and commercial firms in eight areas, Warwickshire, North London, South London, Norfolk, Medway, Lincolnshire, Somerset and HMP Rye Hill. For more information visit the Master Gardener website at

The Master Composter Programme is an initiative where Garden Organic work with community volunteers to promote and support home composting. Volunteers undertake a training programme in composting and issues surrounding organic waste management.

They then carry out activities in their local community to raise awareness and participation in home composting. The programme is carried out in collaboration with local authorities and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme). For further information about the programme go to

Read more news from the Master Gardener Programme

Read more news from Garden Organic

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I love Seed Saving!

I love saving seed. It gives me a real feeling of satisfaction, seeing a plant go through its whole lifecycle and then helping it propagate itself over and over again.

I started off with things like tomatoes peas and beans, and then moved on to things like spinach, lettuce, beetroot, leeks, onions, squash,peppers, chillies, chard,Japanese greens and parsnips. With the biennials I get to see parts of the plant not usually seen when the crop is only grown for food. I find the tall flower spikes really add hieght and structure to the veg garden and give me something to harvest when other crops are slowing down.

It also changes the way I grow some veg. because I know I have a vast store of seed and can sow long,wide, thick lines of things like parsnips, knowing that even the hungriest slugs won’t be able to mow down the whole row.

Yes, I have to thin when the plants are bigger, but I would prefer to do this than to have to resow over and over like I used to.
One thing I really like saving seed from is Spinach(true spinach, not leaf beet). A small patch, say a meter square, can yield a massive amount of seed which will keep for a few years. This year I saved about 500g of spinach seed from a similar area. That is equal to about 200 packets or £250 worth of seed! That should be enough for as much spinach as we want over the next four years or so. We love baby spinach as a salad crop so sow a lot in September to eat over the winter and the spring. If we have surplus leaves we can sell them at the local country market.

Having excess seed means that I can give it away.When people come and look round the garden and comment on a variety, I can usually offer them some seed.

In the garden,the leek ‘Colossal’ is almost ready to harvest seed from . The 20 or so flower spikes are 5 feet tall and were covered in bumble bees and other pollinators over the summer. In my opinion saving your own seed increases enjoyment and understanding of food growing, saves money and carbon, increases flower diversity and makes us more resilient.

So I suggest vegetable seed saving should be an intergral part of growing your own food, and even beginners should be encouraged to save at least some of their own seed. To me, not saving seed from simple things like beans or tomatoes is like buying reuseable bags to put your shopping in, but then throwing them away after using them once.

Lets get saving more seed and encouraging others to do the same.


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Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens to undergo redevelopment to create new education and resource centre

Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens to undergo redevelopment to create new education and resource centre

Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens is to undergo a site redevelopment as part of a plan to create a new education and resource centre.

During the winter months the shop and café will be replaced by a new Garden Organic education and resource centre. Parts of the ten acre gardens will be redesigned to create a more interactive and educational experience that showcases the latest organic gardening ideas and techniques and the charity’s programmes work.

The new Garden Organic education and resource centre will open in March 2014 to the public, Garden Organic members and visiting organisations such as schools and community groups. A new public entrance area for the Vegetable Kingdom and Gardens will see Garden Organic staff on hand to provide advice, assistance and literature about the charity.

A members area will be created alongside a library stocked with extensive archive materials and books for people to use to research and educate themselves about organic gardening. There will also be displays about Garden Organic’s work and the chance to see organic gardening demonstrations and experiments in the gardens.

Roger Key, Garden Organic’s Chairman of Trustees, said:

“The Council of Trustees has taken the decision to concentrate on the core objectives of the charity and return to the basics around teaching people to grow organically. This will be achieved by redesigning our demonstration gardens and improving our ability to inspire and educate people of all ages.

“The redesigned gardens will provide a unique opportunity for people to feel involved and connected to our work, while they learn new techniques and methods about organic gardening.

“The redevelopment of the site marks an exciting new chapter in the history of Garden Organic. By taking the charity back to its core roots, it will allow us to grow stronger as an organisation as we concentrate our efforts on education and showcasing the importance of organic growing ideas and methods.”

The new site layout will also provide space for schools to use as a classroom and picnic area. An exhibition space will also be available to showcase Garden Organic work, that of partner organisations and local artists and groups.

The annual schedule of events offered by Garden Organic will be reviewed as part of the redevelopment plans and an announcement about the future of events will take place in 2014. Garden Organic’s popular Apple Day will go ahead on October 12 as planned with a full schedule of activities.

The gardens will remain open during the autumn/winter months, with free entry to the gardens during this period. However, there will be some small changes to the opening hours of the gardens.

From 31 October 2013, the gardens will open Monday to Saturday but will close on Sunday. These new opening times will remain in place during the autumn/winter months and will be reviewed in Spring 2014.

More news from Garden Organic

News from Master Gardener Programme


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Crowtree Lane – Louth Community Food Garden

Crowtree Lane – Louth Community Food Garden

This is one of three main community growing spaces in Louth. All the sites are run by Louth Transition Town and supported by Master Gardener James Pocklington.

Location: Grounds owned by King Edward VI Grammer School
Public: Yes
Space: Large, well maintained site
Contact: James on 01507 607252 or 07939205346
Master Gardener(s): James Pocklington

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NOMINATE TODAY – Master Gardeners making a difference

NOMINATE TODAY – Master Gardeners making a difference

National charity, Garden Organic would like to hear from you about exceptional volunteers that help people benefit from growing their own food.

The national awards will recognise the achievements of individual Master Gardeners and whole groups of these enthusiastic growing mentors.

The finalists and winners will be announced at Garden Organic’s National Volunteer Masters conference on 28 September 2013 at Ryton Gardens, Coventry.

Nominate today

If you’re a volunteer co-ordinator, a volunteer, a mentored family, school or community group, please nominate the person that you feel makes a difference.

Click here to download the simple nomination form for 2013 awards.

Any supporting photos and press cuttings are welcomed.
If you have problems with the form, click here to contact co-ordinator Kate Newman.

Please return completed forms to Garden Organic by 9am, Monday 16 September 2013 (contact details on form).

Award categories

There are three categories which recognise volunteers who have gone beyond the call of duty and made outstanding contributions to the campaigns to promote composting or gardening in the UK. There is also an individual award, which could encompass both composting and gardening.

Achievement Award This award will be given to an individual volunteer who has gone beyond expectation in his/her promotional activities, either due to the amount of time or effort that they have devoted to their volunteering or the exceptional results that they have achieved.
Group Achievement Award This award will be given to a group of volunteers that have shown how the whole can be more than the sum of its parts by forming an effective and cohesive group, which has helped to either improve the efficiency of a scheme or had a particularly significant impact locally.
Innovation and Social Media Award This award will recognise innovation and use of social media by either an individual or a group within a gardening or compost volunteer mentor scheme. Innovative ideas come in many forms, but the judges will look particularly favourably upon those ideas that have the potential to be replicated across other schemes.
Master Award This award will recognise exceptional achievement by a volunteer – supporting their local programme or simply acting as an inspiration to others through their efforts in their scheme. Someone who has already been nominated for the Achievement Award can also be put forward for this award.


Nominate today

Click here to download the simple nomination form for 2013 awards

Please return completed forms to Garden Organic by 9am, Monday 16 September 2013 (contact details on form).

Read more

2012 Awards finalist and winners

Book a place at the 2013 National Volunteer Masters conference

News – Garden Organic’s Master Gardener programme nominated for national award

Conference cake follow awards at Ryton Gardens, Coventry

More news and case studies

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Master Gardeners and the wall of horticultural truth

Master Gardeners and the wall of horticultural truth

Lincolnshire Master Gardeners were treated to another opportunity to have their hard volunteering rewarded through a training day held at Woodlands Organic Farm in Kirton.

The day started with Rick highlighting some case studies of activities around the county, including the work being done at Hovenden House, near Spalding and the four Master Gardeners engaged with adult learning classes. Following this, Philip Turvil, the programme manager and expert horticulturalist, took the volunteers through the experience of ‘the wall of horticultural truth’, where the vagueness of when exactly to sow and harvest food was explored. Much debate about when you could sow things, and the myriad of horticultural tricks involved, were discussed, and always with passion!

‘It’s tricky…’ Philip Turvil concludes what we can learn from the ‘Wall of Horticultural Truth’

Organic tea and coffee, in the relaxing atmosphere of the kitchen garden at the farm, was followed by a quick ‘Gardeners Question Time’ game, exploring how to respond best to novice gardeners, with our ‘expert’ panel of volunteers providing some model responses to quesetions. Philip then gave an interactive talk on pests and diseases and the organic principles behind prevention.

Top tip of the day was from Steven Jacklin, ‘If you are working with a school growing group, September and October are good months for planting Pak Choi, and the children get edible results before they break for Christmas!’

After a splendid organic lunch, with virtually no food miles or carbon foot print attached, the afternoon sessions began. Beneath your feet, the Garden Organic compost game proved both entertaining and educational as Philip explained the process of composting and the managing of organic soil. The volunteers then discussed methods employed in supporting households and what resources were useful and needed, rounding off a positive and productive day!

Our thanks to Woodlands Organic Farm for hosting our event.

Rick highlights the quarters activities

Master Gardener James tests his composting knowledge


Master Gardeners tuck into their organic lunch

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Hovenden House and a Master Gardener

Hovenden House and a Master Gardener

Hovenden House is a home (with nursing care), providing a range of services for adults with physical disabilities in South Holland, Lincolnshire. Master Gardener David has been supporting the community growing space there since he volunteered with the programme in September 2011, building up a very impressive 56.5 volunteering hours in the process.


 ‘I have managed to get a grant from South Holland District Council for Hovenden House Leonard Cheshire Disability Home. The grant has been used to build a paved area for raised beds which can be accessed by the residents from their wheelchairs. The boxes for the raised beds were made by young adults as part of the National Citizenship Scheme – also arranged through SHDC by me. I have made bespoke gardening equipment for the disabled residents to use from their wheelchairs as many of them have physical as well as mental disabilities’ David Wood

The residents are enjoying growing food and David is a very popular green-shirted individual when he visits. Due to the engagement of the residents, South Holland District Council awarded the home with money to create a more disabled friendly growing environment.

‘I’m pleased to see that the £3,000 allocated to the project has created a path and area where they can be installed.  I hope that all the plants thrive and that they will continue to be eaten by the residents and used by the chef in the House’s kitchen’  Karen Johnson, South Holland District Council

The original raised beds

The new and improved growing space, thanks to South Holland District Council


For more information about Hovenden House, visit

For more information about South Holland District Council and their commitment to healthy living and eating visit



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