Eaton Barn Community Garden
Eaton Barn Community Garden is a horticulture project for people with disabilities and mental health needs, used regularly by up to 15 disabled people each day and visited by over 100 members of the local community. It has become a thriving outdoor space used by the local community, schools and groups such as Leominster In Bloom. Allotments are rented out to local families and the garden has hosted numerous social and leisure events. The project is open year round but lack of adequate facilities, such as efficient heating in the main building, limits who can attend - we would like to be able to open for longer hours and offer our space to more people who could benefit from spending time in this tranquil and beautiful environment.
Our garden in the summer.
What do we do?
We offer horticultural activities for people with learning disabilities who are supported by our staff team, Sarah and Bev, and our team of seven regular and committed volunteers, many of whom have mental health needs. We sell plants, fruit and vegetables which we grow in our small market garden; eggs from our beautiful flock of chickens, and we have six community allotments. Our customers come from our local community and value our high quality produce and personal service. In the winter we operate a thriving bespoke Christmas wreaths service and create beautiful natural winter and festive decorations.
Regular participant Kim with the Christmas wreaths that she made last year.
Eaton Barn Community Garden has the support of Herefordshire Council, the local Town Council and Parish Council, as well as community groups such as Leominster in Bloom, Leominster Vintage and local businesses including Haygrove, Philpotts nurseries and Parrys Greengrocers. The project has an active social media presence and large number of locals who support the project in many ways. The National Gardens Scheme and Royal Horticulture Society have been involved with developing the garden.
Over the last five years, the dedicated team have worked hard to turn a run-down horticultural project into a thriving venue used by many. It provides a safe space with excellent accessibility for anyone wishing to enjoy the benefits of working in the garden or spending time outside.
The start of our journey! Our volunteers at one of our clearance days in 2016.
The project has improved year on year. Initially the main work was landscaping and creating the different areas of the site for development. Buildings have been erected including a farm shop, outdoor classroom, secure storage and chicken houses. The main path, which offers an accessible route around the whole site, is complete and a willow tunnel and rose arch have been added. Volunteers have brought skills and expertise which have enabled the addition of a raised decking and seating area, planters and extensive seating spots around the garden.
We have also focused on our own fundraising. In 2018 we were burgled and our precious trikes were stolen. We did a sponsored 'Bikes for Trikes' ride with Kim riding her trike and another participant, Louis, riding his tandem, to raise money to replace them. We wanted to raise £1000 so that we could buy two new trikes; instead we raised a massive £4000! This enabled us to buy a container for storage and improve our security.
We did it! Kim and Louis at the end of their sponsored ride.
Our project was recognised by the RHS's In Your Neighbourhood Awards, and last year we were successful in gaining the highest award - level 5 - we are the only project to ever achieve this level at the first attempt at entering. We are highly regarded in our local community and pride ourselves on our beautiful garden and the therapeutic environment that we have created.
What an achievement! Celebrating our RHS Level 5 Award after the IYN awards ceremony.
What next for Eaton Barn Community Garden?
We would love to improve the facilities in the main building and if it could be refurbished it would not only make it more comfortable for those who currently attend, particularly during the winter, but allow us to use Eaton Barn as a venue for the wider public. We are focusing our fundraising for 2020 on raising £5000 to purchase a new safe and efficient boiler and heating system. Our existing woodburning stove uses 12 tonnes of wood every winter - it is difficult to source dry, seasoned wood and we have to manage the safety of our disabled participants very carefully. With a new heating system we would be able to offer more activities in the winter - such as expanding our Christmas wreaths operation to include an improved range of crafts, introducing new skills such as willow weaving and woodworking.
Our old and inefficient woodburning stove
Rewards - or what we can do for you!
We are offering some fantastic rewards for supporters who pledge to us - gifts such as home made preserves and vegetable boxes, and experiences such as day's fishing or the use of the site for an event. We'd also love to talk to anyone interested in working with us - it could be using our outdoor classroom for your yoga class, sharing gardening tips, volunteering with us or joining our allotment community.