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Lincolnshire Show 2015

Lincolnshire Show 2015

Hundreds of people came to see the Lincolnshire Master Gardener stall which was within the Lincolnshire County Council stand with other services from Public Health.

I, along with two West Lindsey volunteers, Steven and Annabelle, had a great time talking to people from all walks of life, made over 200 pots with people of all ages and from all backgrounds, helping them ‘Give it a Grow’ with confidence.

The interest in the programme was immense, with people from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and North Lincolnshire sadly disappointed to find out that we don’t offer support in those areas – yet!

The two days went well with questions about tomatoes, space and time saving tips as well as the health benefits of growing you own.

It was really nice to meet an ex-manager of a homeless shelter we used to support and hear her kind words about the positive impact the programme had on her service users. That is what makes this programme special.

And the weather was nice this year too!

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Lincolnshire Show 2015 – getting ready!

Lincolnshire Show 2015 – getting ready!

We’re getting ready – we’ve made 77 paper pots and put some Heritage Seed Library seeds in them – Why? I hear you ask – well, time will tell…

Are you going this year?

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Helping communities grow – the impact of Master Gardener volunteers

Helping communities grow – the impact of Master Gardener volunteers

Hundreds of Garden Organic volunteers have helped tens of thousands of people to benefit from growing food since we launched the Master Gardener Programme in April 2010.

In November 2013, we won the prestigious national ‘Education and Learning’ award from the BIG Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme – a £59.8 million national grant programme. We were commended for ‘inspirational work to create a team of mentors who share knowledge across the board with support from an online network’.

We thoroughly appreciate the energy and commitment of every ‘Master Gardener’ mentor across the UK in our urban and rural networks. Each mentor has a flexible volunteer role to suit their lifestyle and interests. Each has expert support from their locally-based co-ordinator, together with bespoke resources and ongoing training.

Please click links for case studies, news, events, photos, and Facebook

Read about our health, social and environmental impacts

Volunteer achievements (spring 2010 – autumn 2013)

  • 23,000 volunteer hours in eight urban and rural networks.
  • 75% retention of 600 trained volunteers across England.
  • 5,000 people now growing food in regularly mentored ‘households’.
    Includes individuals, families and community groups.
  • 65,000 local residents supported at events, talks, estates and schools.

Coventry University’s independent evaluation shows wide ranging benefit for volunteers and households involved in the Master Gardener Programme for 12 months – and continued behavioural change after 36 months. Please see below.


1. Behavioural change after 12 months involvement in the Master Gardener Programme
Research from Coventry University; 299 respondents, August 2013














Get involved today
– volunteer, free growing advice, start Master Gardener network


2. Behavioural change after up to 36 months involvement in the Master Gardener Programme
As compared with 12 month outcomes. Research from Coventry University; 95 respondents, August 2013

  • 65% of households and 95% volunteers still more satisfied with their life.
  • Higher average amount of fruit and vegetables consumed per day.
  • Similar number of hours spent growing food per week.
  • 94% households still growing food with 78% growing the same or a wider range.
  • Nearly half of households and volunteer still making changes to where they buy food.

More details will be published in 2014. Please contact the Master Gardener Programme team here

“For many years we’ve been told anecdotally that gardening is good for you. What these results show is how significant the impact can be in terms of health perceptions, life satisfaction and involvement in the local community.”
Dr Moya Kneafsey, Coventry University

“[The] Master Gardener Programme is such a great scheme. It provides a proven, practical starting point for people to start growing food. It’s a way of learning by sharing others’ experience. Indeed, the approach is based on the training and goodwill of people that share their food growing skills and experience.”
Professor Tim Lang Centre for Food Policy, City University London & President of Garden Organic

“By working with volunteers in their communities, we’re showing that the initial challenges of growing your own food can be overcome. So if that first crop ends up slug eaten, rather than feel demoralised, people look for advice and support instead of giving up.”
Philip Turvil, Master Gardener Programme manager

Click here for an overview of Coventry University’s independent evaluation

Launch a Master Gardener network

Develop a commission with Garden Organic to contribute to your organisation’s health, social and environmental outcomes by launching and managing mentor networks that help people with food growing advice.

Read more about partnership opportunities

Get involved with Master Gardener networks

  • Search local events, blogs and growing advice by your nearest Master Gardeners.
  • Register for 12 months free food growing advice as one of their supported households.
  • Involve your local growing group

Find your nearest Master Gardener

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About the Master Gardener Programme
Partners & Funding
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Growing tips

Article by Philip Turvil

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Lincolnshire Show 2014

Lincolnshire Show 2014

Lincolnshire Master Gardeners had a great time talking about growing to the many visitors to this years show.

We were delighted to be invited to have a stand in the Lincolnshire County Council Public Health tent, showing the fantastic range of public health services on offer in the county. We were also lucky to share the stand with enthusiastic Lincoln community garden volunteers from Green Synergy.

Across the two busy days we spoke to hundreds of people about the joys and health benefits of growing your own, answering questions from people thinking of starting, new growers and experienced gardeners. We were asked about composting, pests – slugs mainly! – and diseases, with lots of questions about fruit trees.

Master Gardeners entertained and informed many people over the two days with an Identify the Seeds test featuring pumpkin, broad bean, cabbage and carrot seeds – the latter two causing the most confusion! Green Synergy excelled at promoting the community growing projects in Lincoln city whilst encouraging people to take home grass heads that the public made at the stand.

The outside growing space created in collaboration with Green Synergy demonstrated what could be achieved in a small space on a small budget, ideal for a post-modern interpretation of the Council’s Dig for Victory theme!

It was encouraging to hear how many people are growing their own food, and for a whole host of reasons – health, wealth and happiness being the major themes. The feedback to the programmes aims and the Council funding was really positive with everyone we spoke to.

Master Gardener Hannah talks people through the Identify the Seeds test!

Master Gardeners Steve and Hannah talked a continuous stream of interested people

Advice – what we do best

Steve talking with people taking a rest at our little garden!


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Autumn Harvest Celebration

Autumn Harvest Celebration

40 people arrived on a brisk November morning to the New Life Conference Centre in Lincoln, to be treated to a fun and informative day in the county capital.

We were pleased to have welcomed a record number of Master Gardeners attending their quarterly training event, bringing with them partners and households as plus ones.  Members of Lincolnshire County Council Public Health team also attended, as well as representatives from two local food growing initiatives, demonstrating the strength of the network in its third year.

Thanks for organising a great day yesterday, and our +1s really enjoyed the day too! ☺ – Heidi Haxeltine, Master Gardener

After a brief introduction and welcome by co-ordinator Rick Aron, Master Gardener David Newman stepped up to the fold to deliver a very entertaining and informative session that examined the life of a seed from the inside out! Dave helped the group to gently and carefully take a bean seed apart to reveal and explain the inner workings of a seed. It struck a lot of the people attending that they had used seeds for growing vegetables for a long time, without actually knowing what keeps them alive in the packet.

Master Gardener Julie takes apart a bean

After some lovely coffee fueled conversations in the break, Rick then introduced the next speakers, Pete and Sean from Green Futures in North East Lincolnshire and Mary from Lincoln-based Green Synergy. Pete and Sean outlined the work that Green Futures has done, is doing and where the organisation wants to go next. Mary outlined the plan the Green Synergy is in the process of rolling out, whilst supporting local growing enterprises.

Garden Organic present Green Synergy and Green Future some Bocking 14 Comfrey as a token of our appreciation of their community work – Mary Whiting, Rick Aron, Sean Atkinson, Pete Allen

All three faced a wide range of questions from a very impressed audience and the feedback after the event has been wholly positive about the two organisations.

Lunch was provided by the venue, which very kindly catered to our request of local foods. They also catered for our ‘bring your own chutney’ request by providing very fine local cheeses. The food was so good that little was left, however the New Life Centre were kind enough to allow us to arrange the extra food was donated to the Lincoln YMCA.

Our plans had to change after lunch as one of our guest speakers sadly couldn’t attend.

Pete and Sean from Green Futures kindly agreed to field an extended question and answer session, proving the interest in their fantastic enterprise, one that North East Lincolnshire is lucky to have.

Heidi, a Master Gardener from Stamford, was looking forward to the wildlife gardening talk that was meant to happen. We asked the group to think of something the did (or wished they did!) to help the wildlife in their garden. The results of our talk will be put on the site next week.

After yet more fine coffee – talking about gardening is tiring! – Master Gardener Sharon Smith, a qualified nutritionist, took us through the role of the nutrients, from the soil, into the plants and finally into us, teaching us that we are but compost. But in a good way. Sharon demonstrated the nutritional need for fresh food by way of an interactive diagram on a flip-board, showing where each component of food – calcium, nitrogen etc – is needed by the body. See the image below for the results.

We would like to thank everyone who came, everyone who brought chutney, our funding partners who came along and contributed and the New Life Centre for being such excellent hosts.



Hello Rick, just to say thanks for great day out on Saturday. I really enjoyed everything about the day, meeting up with other like minded people and having a bit of banter, it was good to see what growing your own stuff can lead to, a more sustainable future for all of us – Paul Collingwood, local allotment secretary

Thank you so much for another fun-packed day – as usual, learnt loads and came home inspired – Hilary Bower, Master Gardener

Thanks for a super day on Saturday – very happy to have some bocking 14! – Laura Stratford, Transition Town Lincoln

Blog post about the day by a Master Gardener:
Brilliant Autumn Harvest celebration in Lincoln!

Maggie, a Stamford Master Gardener, has asked me to pop up some chutney recipes that she and other Master Gardeners use. Please keep checking over the next few weeks for a new chutney recipe! First up in South Holland Master Gardener Jane Broome with her Green Tomato Chutney.



A dissected bean seed

Mary from Green Synergy talks to the group

Soil, vegetables and humans – all the same really!

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Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme wins national award

Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme wins national award

Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme is celebrating success after scooping the prestigious national ‘Education and Learning’ award, at the Local Food Awards.

Competing against education and learning projects from across England, Garden Organic impressed the independent Local Food Panel with their model for cascading growing knowledge, backed by a central resource – in the form of an online network. They received their top prize at the awards ceremony at The Lowry in Manchester.

Philip Turvil, Master Gardener Programme Manager, said:

“We are delighted that Garden Organic’s Master Gardener Programme has won such a prestigious award to celebrate the achievements of our volunteers and our team’s approach to finding and supporting such enthusiastic growing mentors.

“The Master Gardener Programme delivers wide-reaching benefits that go beyond just growing food. It’s also about a healthy lifestyle, community and improving the environment.

“We don’t want to just train Master Gardener volunteers the best way of growing a lettuce for lunch. We want to show them how to pass this information on to others in the community, to share their passion and experience so that everyone is learning from each other and feeling the benefits. It’s fantastic that this award recognises all the work that goes into achieving this. Thank you to each Master Gardener, our local partners, and Local Food.”

Mark Wheddon, Local Food Programme Manager, said:

“The Local Food Awards are a unique opportunity to celebrate and reward the dedicated people who are delivering some of the excellent projects we have funded. All of our projects deserve recognition for the work they do, but we are delighted for Garden Organic on their success at the Awards.

“Their inspirational work to create a team of mentors who share knowledge across the board with support from an online network, saw them edge ahead of their competitors.”

Find out more

Master Gardeners Rodney and Sue with the award!

About the awards

The Local Food Awards are an opportunity to recognise, reward and celebrate some of the hundreds of outstanding community projects that Local Food has funded since the programme opened in 2008.

All 500 Local Food projects were invited to enter the Awards in four categories – Small Grants, Community Food Growing, Education and Learning, and Enterprise. Shortlisted projects were put before an external panel in September, and the winners in each category were unveiled today during the Local Food Celebratory Event at The Lowry in Manchester.

About the Master Gardener Programme

Since 2009, the Master Gardener Programme has received funding from Local Food to develop a practical model for a volunteer support network to encourage and mentor people and communities to grow fruit and vegetables in their gardens and on local communal land.

This has involved the recruitment of a co-ordination team based in Warwickshire, London and Norfolk, who have trained and supported 475 Master Gardeners who have given 18,500 hours to promote home food production. The volunteers have impacted on the lives of 4,300 people in mentored ‘households’ and another 52,000 people through workshops and other support for local groups.

Today, thousands more people are benefiting from growing food with Master Gardeners thanks to commissions to start networks in new areas

Get in touch

Master Gardeners celebrating with the Award

Local Food Certificate and Trophy


L to R: Graham Smith presents the Award to Garden Organic’s Philip Turvil & Kate Newman

150 people from Local Food projects gathered at the Lowry, Manchester

Who’s who?

  • Garden Organic ( is the UK’s leading organic growing charity dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes, communities and schools. Using innovation and inspiration, the charity aims to get more people growing in the most sustainable way. Garden Organic delivers through renowned projects such as the Food for Life Partnership, the Master Composter and Master Gardener schemes, and the work of The Heritage Seed Library.
  • Volunteer Master Gardeners benefit communities with food growing advice. The enthusiastic mentors are fully trained and supported by Garden Organic. People taking part in the programme show significant health, social and environment benefits after 12 months involvement and continued positive lifestyle change after 36 months involvement.
    The innovative Master Gardener Programme began in 2010 with funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme and Sheepdrove Trust, together with local government in city and rural populations. There are now mentor networks in Warwickshire, Coventry, North London, South London, Norfolk, Medway, Lincolnshire and Somerset. Garden Organic aims to develop and sustain these programme areas more nationally to follow the success of Garden Organic’s Master Composter network.
  • Local Food ( is a £59.8 million programme that distributes money from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to a variety of food-related projects to help make locally grown food accessible and affordable to communities. It was developed by a consortium of 17 national environmental organisations, and is managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT).
    RSWT is a registered charity incorporated by Royal charter to promote conservation and manage environmental programmes throughout the UK. It has established management systems for holding and distributing funds totalling more than £20 million a year.
    The Big Lottery Fund
    ( is the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding. It is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need, awarding over £4.4 billion to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since 2004.

Read more Master Gardener news or get involved

More from Garden Organic


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Edible City

Edible City

Edible City is a hour long documentary exploring the Good Food movement that’s happening in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well across the world.

Inspirational – and suitably rose-tinted – Edible City shows local residents exploring their differing reasons for being involved in the organisation, and also the different benefits for the people and community at large.

Around 40 people attended the viewing and stayed behind for a question and answer session from a selected panel including myself, Mary from Green Synergy and Deano, a renowned Lincolnshire-based permaculturalist. We fielded a range of questions centering on community growing initiatives already happening in the county and wider country, pest control, allotment management and what is being done to promote foraging.

Lincolnshire County Council Public Health, Lincoln City Council, Revival, Transition Town Lincoln as well as the student population all ensured it was a lively and interesting evening.

My thanks to Transition Town Lincoln and Lincoln City Council for inviting me to participate.

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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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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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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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