Celebrating a year of achievement

Volunteer Masters Conference goconf16

Every year, Garden Organic invites the charity’s volunteer Master Gardeners, Master Composters, Food Buddies and Growing Buddies from across the UK to join them in celebrating another inspirational year of spreading the word on organic food growing, food preparation and home composting. As the sun sets on this years’ event, we take a look at some of the highlights of the day, and hear from those involved.

This year over 120 passionate and dedicated volunteers descended on the gardens, travelling from as far afield as Kent, Norfolk and Shropshire. Visitors were met with a smile, a goodie bag including items donated by Unwins and Kew’s Grow Wild project, and a hot drink, and the promise of a jam-packed day.

The day kicked off with a welcome from Garden Organic’s Head of Sustainable Communities, Sally Gardner, and Chief Executive, James Campbell. Both thanked the volunteers for their invaluable contribution to the work of the charity, and the life-changing impact they have.

Shortly after, the fun really began! Volunteers were herded off into rooms to take part in one of a number of workshops and activities. A diverse range of subjects were covered, including how to grow mushrooms in coffee grounds, natural dyeing, the secret life of compost and learning how to fit bread-making into busy lives.

For many, the highlight of the day came after lunch, when visitors were treated to three first-rate speakers…

Chris Collins, Garden Organic’s recently appointed Head of Organic Horticulture, started the talks; entertaining the audience with his advice on the 15 minutes of plant care all gardeners should introduce into their daily routines. Chris was followed by Anthony Roach of Earth Watch, who spoke about the Earthworm Watch project he’s working on. Anthony introduced the audience to the many virtues of the humble earthworm, and encouraged them to take part in this nationwide survey.

The third speaker was Mark Ridsdill-Smith, aka the Vertical Veg man! Mark talked through some of his favourite growing spaces, and gave the audience valuable tips in how to make the most of every little growing space available. The talks took the day right up to afternoon tea time, when two beautiful cakes made by Norfolk baker, Maria Clouting, were unveiled, admired and unceremoniously devoured!

Workshop sessions were repeated once more, allowing attendees to learn new skills to pass on in their volunteering work, before the ever-popular prize draw - supported by BigGreenSmile.com, Suma and Whitefurze - closed the day.

At the end of the day attendees went their separate ways, with new skills, new friends and new ideas - not forgetting the compostable cup they had been using all day, kindly donated by Vegware, planted with a plug plant donated by Delfland Nurseries.

For the team at Garden Organic the event is always one of the highlights of the year - spending time with such vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic volunteers sets us up for the darker winter months!

If you would like to become involved with volunteering for Garden Organic, we are currently recruiting either at our Warwickshire head office or within our projects in Southwark, Greater London and Breckland, Norfolk.

We have a lovely selection of photos from the event which can be browsed on Flikr and Facebook.

Posted: 
Monday, 26 September 2016