Proud representatives of a horticultural project which helps children with disabilities have picked up an award during a celebratory tea party.
The Alnwick Garden’s Forget-me-not Young Gardeners Programme was highly commended at The Conservation Foundation’s 2013 Gardening Against The Odds Awards.
The initiative was honoured in a new category, Young Gardeners Against The Odds, and the prize was presented to George Swordy and Clare O’Donnell, both senior gardeners at the Alnwick attraction in London last week.
The programme offers opportunities for children with learning difficulties and disabilities to spend time with their siblings and parents/carers, working with professional gardeners to learn the skills to develop and maintain their own vegetable and flower allotment plots.
The families attend on a monthly basis and do soil preparation, crop rotation, potting and planting, propagating, weeding, composting, pest control and harvesting.
The group has also made tied posies, hanging baskets and learnt about bees and honey production while visiting live and demonstration hives.
The programme has been developed for families who usually find it difficult to participate in activities such as these, especially in the environment of a large visitor attraction were visits may be daunting.
Many children with disabilities struggle in crowded and noisy areas often triggering behavioural problems.
Here, the families have their own allotment plots and polytunnel where there can be as much support as they need from project staff and gardeners. Raised plots are provided for children in wheelchairs.
The gardening workshops are a way for children to make new friends and offer a welcome break from home life which is often very repetitive and stressful.
Families and carers also benefit from the scheme as they have made new friends and developed support networks that have continued outside of the project.