Easter is a time for Fresh Starts
It was with mixed feelings that we held the last session in our first Gardening Project this week.
Twice a week, for the past four years, a group of us have travelled out of Birmingham and beyond the Lickey Hills, to tend and cultivate our vegetable plot.
The Gardening Project started because one of the lads we support wanted to get out of the city and re-establish a connection with nature. Then another of our beneficiaries finished a Horticultural Course at Pershore College. We started looking for somewhere to make the most of this green-fingered enthusiasm. Some very generous friends offered us the use of their kitchen garden, and so the Gardening Project; our first therapeutic activity started!
As well as growing far too many runner beans we have produced prize winning marrows, learnt that borage is nothing like porridge, battled with rabbits, rats and badgers, chatted with visiting pea-hens and debated whether a deer is really always a deer.
However, the most precious fruit of this time is without doubt the relationships that have grown: not just between JCM workers and beneficiaries but we have seen a heartfelt friendship develop between everyone who has attended the project. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that some of those who come have experienced very traumatic relationships in the past and struggle to connect with others. God has blessed this work with so much more than just horticultural fruitfulness!
So what prompted our decision to move on to pastures new?
The beautiful Worcestershire countryside, for all its charms, has a significant drawback to us: it is in Worcestershire but the people we support are in Birmingham! This means that everyone is dependant on lifts from us to get to the Gardening Project which limits the number of people we can include. There is no public transport option for beneficiaries to make their own way there, if for example, they have a doctor’s appointment in the morning.
We have been praying about this for some time and God has answered with something far better than we had hoped for! He has given us an old community allotment, owned by Bournville Village Trust in Birmingham. The new site is already kitted out for us with a potting shed, polytunnel and plenty of growing space. There will be new challenges of learning how to look after the ponds and the green roof. There is even a classroom where we hope to start running regular craft workshops.
There is lots to be excited about, but it is still sad to say goodbye.
The most painful goodbye will be to our nine hens. As there isn’t yet running water on the new site and we won’t be able to be there every day to look after them, it would not be fair to try and keep our chickens. We might be able to get another flock in the future; we’ll have to wait and see.
There are a few very important thank yous to end with:
- A massive thank you to the family who have hosted our Gardening Project for the past four years! They have welcomed us and our beneficiaries (not to mention the chickens) into their home and without them none of this would have happened.
- Thank you to Bournville Village Trust who have leased us this new site and have been so helpful and welcoming.
- Thank you to everyone who has partnered with us in praying for the opportunity to move the Gardening Project to Birmingham. We believe that we have a God who listens to his children.
- And thank you to our Heavenly Father who loves each person we support and provides so graciously and abundantly for our every need.