Our currently under-used outdoor space at the Women’s Workshop will become a women-focused community haven and garden. Women will improve confidence and knowledge about growing, cooking and building structures in wood and willow. They will construct raised beds, sow seeds, grow, harvest and save seed as a complete growing cycle, learning what can be grown through the seasons. Cooking, DIY, woodworking and traditional garden craft skills will be offered; making planters from recycled wood and willow structures. Eco-practice will be key; using organic, peat free self-made compost, using a no-dig strategy, and understanding how growing your own food can reduce waste. Women’s horizons will be extended by visiting projects to gain ideas and join networks. Women will research and share recipes, learn how to store food and gain traditional knowledge in fermenting and pickling produce as well as creating vinegars and salves.
Subtitled video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb7XOqJDxB0
What we'll deliver:
- New, wheelchair accessible raised bed area for growing vegetables, herbs and beneficial flowers.
- Outdoor undercover seating area for cooking food grown, workshops and a quiet space to chat with new friends.
- Areas for fruit bushes and wildflowers
- A new composting structure
- Small greenhouse area
- We will engage a target of 30 local women through a programme for 2022-3
- 1 to 1 support session with each woman identifying her plans for improving her health and well-being through the project
- 24 facilitated activity sessions
- 4 cooking and shared eating events
- 2 networking trips to other projects and active involvement in Northumberland Nourish Network
Why it's a great idea:
The project inspires women to grow their own food to help reduce food poverty, as living costs rise. It brings women together to learn new skills, share ideas and make new friends, reducing isolation, building confidence in social situations, impacting positively on their mental health and wellbeing. The physical aspects of gardening will help women become more active and to join other health and wellbeing activities such as walking or cycling. Women will learn how to grow sustainably in their own garden, windowsill or backyard and will become pro-active in making a difference to their own environment and food sources, reducing waste and saving money. They will learn traditional skills, lost over the generations and share their new-found skills with others within their local community. The practical DIY and woodworking skills enable women to start on the route to non-traditional employment for women, including a future enterprise venture with the Women’s Workshop.
Steps to get it done:
- Invite women to come along and join in the initial phase including a one-to-one opportunity.
- Involve women in the purchasing of equipment, plants and seeds.
- Agreeing the garden calendar.
- Clear the ground to make accessible.
- Skills and activity sessions to build raised beds, covered area and composting area.
- Launch facilitated programme with sessions on growing, harvesting, cooking and that track the seasonal calendar.
- Women in the project take a lead by Year 2 in organising elements of the programme.
- Second round of publicity and celebration events to involve more women.
The project builds on an existing small growing area at the Women’s Workshop, which was developed during the pandemic. Enthusiasm for growing has gradually developed, initially as a result of our ‘Women’s Weeds’ project, funded by Kew Gardens, which focused on getting familiar with locally growing natural wild flowers and herbs. Women visited a physic garden and the Sill Visitor Centre to improve their knowledge of their natural environment and experimented with salves and herb vinegars. Women also took part in COP26 activities, including ‘Stitches for Survival’ crafts and ordering and planting native trees and bushes from the Woodland Trust.
Now the hope is that we can develop the space further, and be more inclusive, linking directly with women who are facing poverty and poor health. The raised beds will be at a height to enable women with various disabilities to take part. The ‘indoor / outdoor’ construction will enable work to continue through the year.