Breckland: Growing Buddies and Master Gardeners

Breckland food buddie volunteers

The Growing Buddies scheme has been developed specifically with vulnerable target groups/residential settings in mind, as their requirements are often different to a Master Gardener approach. Growing Buddies are enthusiastic champions within a community or a local housing estate that can share their experiences and encourage targeted beneficiaries to get involved in growing food as part of a healthy active lifestyle. Growing Buddies volunteer their time to support others to have a go at growing food in their residential communities, on their windowsills and if appropriate in their community green spaces.

This project aims to:

  • Improve the personal and social wellbeing of Breckland residents by encouraging and facilitating people to grow their own food.
  • In addition to the existing Breckland Master Gardener network, the third year (2016-17) focusses on supporting older people and vulnerable residents, in line with Breckland Council Corporate Plan 2015-2019.

Case Study 1 – St Nicholas Care Home: We were invited to St Nicholas Care Home in Dereham in order to offer the residents an interesting and engaging activity, which would encourage their memories and interests in growing their own. Master Gardener Robert led this session, taking with him many plants from his own garden.

The session was designed to be as interactive as possible in order to stimulate memories and conversation, with the group touching and smelling herbs, tasting pea sprouts and having a go at growing their own cress. Robert also discussed with the group what they would like to grow in their communal garden and how and where they could best grow their own. Feedback from the group has been really positive.

Case Study 2 – Dementia Awareness: In the Spring of 2016 Growing Buddies and Master Gardeners joined forces to receive dementia awareness training. The training provided by Dementia Friends was really useful for the volunteers and focused on the following 5 factors about dementia:

  • Dementia is not a natural part of the ageing process.
  • Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain.
  • It is not just about losing your memory.
  • It's possible to live well with it.
  • There is more to the person than the dementia.

Volunteer Coordinator Michelle also attended a one day training event from the Dementia Adventure Trust which covered practical solutions to supporting people living with dementia.

Case Study 3 – The life of a Growing Buddy, Linda Penney: Having joined the network in May 2016 as a Growing Buddy, new volunteer Linda has been busy supporting people to grow. Linda is also a Norfolk Master Composter and brings with her many years of growing and a real enthusiasm to help people get active and grow their own.

Through Summer 2016 Linda has helped to support lots of people at various events across the county including an allotment show in Dereham, a wildlife event at Gressenhall and an apple day in Swaffham. As well as this Linda has also been supporting residents at a Breckland care home.

“We met several of the residents, had a really great time enjoyed a lunch and came up with several ideas. I am going to go once a week and my role will be to assist and encourage the residents in their gardening, growing and help in keeping them active.”

Find out more

Our volunteers regularly support schools, care homes and youth groups around Breckland as well as hold stalls at popular events. Through the year we have been at events including; The Royal Norfolk Show, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse events, allotment open days, farmers markets, and more.

You can find us on facebook and on twitter @BrecklandMG

Volunteer Blogs

Master Gardeners and Growing Buddies regularly write blogs about the events they have attended and settings they have supported.

  • Linda volunteers as both a Growing Buddy and a Master Composter and writes about her experiences here

Get Involved

If you’d like to get involved contact Michelle Turner, Volunteer Coordinator for the Breckland Growing Buddies and Master Gardener Programmes by email sgardner@gardenorganic.org.uk