We are delighted to share joint first place in the Dublin City Council North West Area City Neighbourhood Awards 2012 in the Residential competition allotment/ Community Garden. The award was presented by Councillor Prof. Bill Tormey, Chairperson North West Area Committee.
This achievement is a recognition for the work the participants of Sankalpa with the support of our tutor Sinead Drew who has a real passion for gardening and teaching. We are now in the regional finals with an opportunity to win €3,000 in prize money. Imagine how many seeds we could plant in in the Finglas Cabra area with that prize money!
Its just amazing how much positive feedback the participants give us on their time spend in the garden. Nature is really special and it can play a central social and therapeutic role in empowering people to over come their addiction.Sankalpa Garden Award 2012
I am delighted to announce that the Sankalpa Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) garden programme have given themselves a name; it is the “Garden Of Growth”. After thirty tense minutes of suggestions and voting, it was decided. It has been a long time coming but sometimes you just can’t rush things. We did venture previously to name the garden but it never came to fruition. As I say I am very happy for the group, you could recognise the sense of ownership, the sense of fulfilment and pride they all have in what they are doing and what they have achieved. Giving the garden the beautiful name of “Garden Of Growth” says it.
A number of weeks have past since my last blog. As I recall we were busy sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings. This week I managed to stop and look at what we have achieved. Some of the lettuce has matures and people got the opportunity to sample the fruits of their labour, putting some on their sandwich there and then, while others brought some home. The broad beans our bursting out of their pods and the sweet pea is blessing us with there beautiful scent, intermittently floating through the air. The garden really is a beautiful place to be.
Ian has been busy edging all the beds, making the garden look very tidy and formal. I think this particular task really appeals to Ian’s nature and his determination to do things right in his life.
I learnt some thing this week; onions are a great method of displaying delayed gratification! Odd as it may seem but planting onions is a fantastic, fun and enjoyable exercise in learning patience. Since we planted them every one has been looking forward to eating them. I have lost count of the number of people who have said “are the onions ready yet?” I do have to admit our onions look great and you would be forgiven for thinking they are ready but no, they wont be harvested until the end of this month. Spring-sown bulb onions take 12-18 week to mature and since we planted them the end of February you will be glad to hear they are due harvesting 27th of June. Yippy at last!!!! And as they say all good things come to those that ask!!
All this is the determined hard work of the gardening group at Sankalpa, I really hope they are very proud of themselves and recognise what it is they have achieved.
In the last blog accidently called our new member Paula, Pauline. I have extended my apology in person to Paula but I feel it is only right to but it in writing too. I would also like to welcome Steven and Dao (AKA Damien, I hope I have that right!) to the garden and thanks all the other participants who came up last week and helped out.
Until next time the garden teaches me some thing about life, I’ll leave it at that.
P.S. Every one is welcome to write on this garden blog, I’d love to hear other peoples thought. It could be a poem, a verse an essay, anything.
This is my first time writing for Sankalpa’s new garden blog and I am very excited!
Last week for the first time in 34 weeks it rained heavily in Finglas but this did not stop us from getting on with our work. There was plenty to do indoors. All the seedling needed watering, cosmos, calendula, sunflower, lobelia, cherry tomatoes, sage, peas, beans, this list goes on! For the participants this is considered a very important job and is completed without request.
Then we went on to the transplanting task at last, every week people were asking can we but them in bigger pot, can we, can we!! Elaine transplanted the calendula she had sown and went on to do the cherry tomatoes. Eddie was eager to do the Livingston daises he had sown earlier in April. We went through the steps involved in this process, taking great care to pick each seedling up with the cotyledon leaves (the cotyledons or seed leaves are the first leaves the seedling produces) after loosening the roots with a dibber.
All was going well until Eddie realises there was about 300 plus seedling needing transplanting. Of his own admission Eddie realised he may have over sown the daises. After transplant over 50 seedlings Eddie vowed to read the seed packet and follow the handouts more closely next time. The positive aspect that came from this experience was that Eddie’s concentration level went form sporadic to long lasting and determent.
Not every on is an in door person and Ian couldn’t wait to go out to earth up the potatoes, do a bit of weeding and review the bamboo he planted last week. It was great to see him out in the poring ran and his new wellies!
We had a new participant join the group, Pauline. I am always delighted when a new member joins the group. I hope Pauline will really enjoy her time at the garden and we can help Pauline achieve her goals.
Could gardening be the new cure for addiction? Well in Sankalpa we are conducting some action research to see if using a spade can really help people in recovery from addiction!
What could be more beneficial for ones health whether you have an addiction to drugs, or shopping, than being out in nature at this time of the year?
The psychological impact of gardening is that it is considered a serene occupation, an oasis of calm, a grounding experience. The combination of the fresh air and the physicality of the tasks helps oxygenate the bloodstream and energize the physical body while simultaneously releasing endorphins involved with stress alleviation. Numerous scientific studies validate the calming effect of the garden by showing findings that reveal simply being in a garden lowers blood pressure.
The physical impact is such that gardening not only provides fitness via calorie burning and muscle toning activities but offers opportunities to improving strength, endurance and flexibility in legs, arms and hands. It has been show to help with hand to eye coordination and improved motor skills, not to mention that the process of gardening stimulates appetite and fosters a good night’s sleep. The later two being the key benefits to rehabilitation of the infirm, those in recovery or those coming to terms with trauma or cognitive difficulties.
Gardens stimulate, they engage all of our senses not just the sights, sounds and smells around us, but touch too; the textures of soil tell a story, and feeling; the emotional satisfaction of a harvest or a successful cutting as well as the deeper side in a sense of belonging or a realization of a spiritual connection or spiritual/emotional peace. Gardening can offer strides in the development of social and intellectual skills, especially those required for social inclusion or rehabilitation. Gardening involves personal initiative, personal effectiveness, a nurturing responsibility to living things. It can involve team work and encourage dialogue. It reveals our capacity to become involved and offers opportunities for accomplishment. Gardening is also a form of self-expression; creativity builds confidence while enabling a healthy outlet for emotions.
Furthermore gardening can assist with fundamental skills like literacy (labelling a plant, reading seed sowing instructions) and numeracy (measuring planting distances, counting seeds) etc, building more confidence and self esteem. While the spiritual and holistic side of horticultural therapy sees value in gardening as meditation. Many practitioners espouse how it quietens the conscious mind, allowing the subconscious mind to discover solutions to problems and negative thinking patterns. In the main those attracted to gardening are reflective, not always introverted outside the garden, but ‘considered’ inside it. Optimistic too, for you sow in hope to reap a harvest many months away. Part of the job description is positive thinking and to a degree lateral thinking too, when it come to ingenious ways to weed, water, control pests, time save etc.
Gardening makes one philosophical in outlook; we come to accept that not every seed germinates, not every slug falls into the trap, perfection is a myth, but we as a whole are flexible and undaunted and we happily adapt to circumstances beyond our control – the non germinated seed did not dislike me so much that it chose not to enter the world. It simply was not viable and a lot of things in life are not viable but wow look at how tall the ones that did germinate are now.