We're still here...

As we enter our second week of ‘lock down’ we wanted to let our members and supporters know what we’ve done as a charity to keep our important work continuing as seamlessly as possible, and where we are experiencing challenges.

Our membership team are now fully up and running working remotely. Whilst we are unable to answer the phone or receive post, we can pick up answerphone messages and emails so are continuing to support all queries. We’re delighted to be welcoming more new members than ever, as people turn to organic growing to provide food, exercise and an escape from the worries of the world. We are also trying to increase the amount of information and advice we can share online, to help all those keen to start growing, or who have more time on their hands to get to grips with their existing growing space.

Our monthly podcast, busy social media channels (facebook, twitter & instagram), monthly email newsletter and members’ magazine (three issues per year) are all continuing as usual.

Heritage Seed Library
The HSL team is currently working remotely after scaling back operations on site last week. We have carefully put in the ground as much as we can, set beds up with irrigation and tucked up everything else so that we are in the best possible position for now. And of course, all our precious seed is carefully secured in the cold store. We are continuing with, amongst other things, growing assessments, germination testing and seed distribution from home, including sending out orphan seed and keeping in touch with our Seed Guardians with advice and support. If you are still to send in your Seed Guardian choices please do so by email to [email protected].

For our project teams, spring is usually a time when our coordinators and volunteers leap into action with heaps of events, food growing activities, composting talks and school visits. Whilst much of this ‘usual’ activity has ceased, or been postponed to a seemingly distant future, we’ve found the need for advice and support for organic gardening and home composting is greater than ever. We’ve been doing much more signposting to the wealth of resources available on the Garden Organic website, and have been pleased to hear updates from volunteers telling us they’ve prepared growing packs and left them with neighbours, friends and family, and shared plants with schools and nurseries who continue to support key worker children. We’re doing our best to maintain social networks and support volunteers, who will themselves be supporting their local communities.

Demonstration Garden build
As you can imagine our gardens team are not enjoying being cooped up but luckily for them they all have gardens of their own to provide plenty of work, including creating raised beds from discarded wood, planting a native hedge and removing a never-ending amount of hairy bittercress! In addition to this they have tomatoes, chillies, tomatillos and cucumbers rescued from work and taken home to look after.

They have also been researching the right plants for our wet and dry beds as well as concentrating on a more detailed design plan for the new garden at Ryton. This is a great opportunity to tackle those things in your garden you’ve been putting off so try to stay positive and active, and keep gardening!