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It was with some trepidation that we decided to run another open day, at the end of the growing season in late September, after the huge success of the one held in May.

We needn’t have worried as lots of families came on the day and stayed for the range of activities on offer, to enjoy conversations over Gill’s amazing scones and tea to the soothing melody of a harp. The children were well catered for: storytelling in the yurt, a poem garden hunt, and the chance to make a herb buddy or an apple-stamp placemat. Fresh produce and winter flowering plants were available for a donation and the opportunity to join a rousing drum circle in our Mongolian yurt or quietly reflect on poetry written by our service users. It was a celebration of the season, amidst falling leaves, apples galore and the golden light of autumn. As growth slowed with the waning sun we enjoyed a very busy couple of months with no less than four schools visiting the CMG to learn about homelessness and ecology. We also had a number of corporate groups who helped dig out the last of the weeds, and dig in manure to prepare for the year ahead. They also laid down a new raised bed growing area so that those with difficulty bending down can still plant. We also saw the creation of an impressive “bug hotel” to attract beneficial creatures to the garden plus lots more. Thank you so much to those companies, Mondelez International, ihs and Chelsea Building society and to West Herts College students who winter planted in our new raised beds and have vibrantly decorated the area. We are pleased to announce that we have recently formed two strong partnerships. The first with Together Timebank resulting so far in a new poetry group, drumming session and a social event at the CMG, and Guideposts Trust to enable us to offer our service users more specialist services in a beautiful setting, an ever increasing number of whom suffer from mental health problems. Mitzvah day on 17th November saw upwards of 40 people of all generations from the Jewish community jump into action, gathering leaves, planting, weeding, filling raised beds, removing a dead tree and sending a clear message that they care about the problem of social exclusion and are not afraid of hard work in the cold. As a very successful year comes to an end our amazing Development Manager Rebecca has left us for now, leaving us with mixed feelings. We are happy because she is growing a child and sad because she has managed the CMG in a way that has allowed it to thrive and flourish. She will be greatly missed here. “A bientot” Rebecca.

Soil is sometimes described as a growing medium yet it is much more than that. It is full of life - insects, worms, fungi and millions of bacteria. These inhabitants perform the vital function of converting nutrients from dead plants and animals into a form useable to plants, as well as transporting water and oxygen. Using chemical pesticides can remove large quantities of microorganisms and with them this beneficial effect, leading to soil erosion and flooding. This is one of the reasons we at the CMG do not use pesticides and operate a crop rotation system and we are keen to offer to service users sustainable practices that will give them nutritious food on their plates for a healthy life, both physically and mentally and at the same time honour the environment.

“I think this session today has been brilliant!” Over recent months we have been encouraging Service users that it’s not all digging at the CMG. We now have Service Users who purely come to the CMG to do creative activities such as wood burning, painting, drawing, knitting, patch working, poetry, woodwork, percussion and collaborative art projects. These creative referrals are Service User led so we seek out their interests and look to encourage them as they explore their own creativity, which is often the first opportunity they have had to really do this. Many have been coming to the CMG to draw, taking advantage of its peaceful and beautiful surroundings, to give themselves time and inspiration…also our heated workshop helps in the current chilly months. We are very much looking forward to all the wonders that will come from our Service Users’ creativity over the months ahead!

One of the many positive comments expressed by those who attended our ‘Fireside at the Garden’ session run recently during which thirteen service users kept the winter chills away by gathering around a fire with hot chocolate and marshmallows to hear a student nurse share useful medical tips for staying well throughout the winter. She covered topics that would if offered in more clinical surroundings be difficult to take in like good sexual health, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), protection against winter viruses, suggesting good practices, dispelling myths and answering a long string of questions. As we all squeezed in round a packed table for a delicious lunch of jacket potatoes afterwards a young man summed up the day well. “It’s a very good support, and I hope it keeps going..” We certainly intend to continue this series of sessions in the months ahead, making the most of the inspiring setting of the CMG and it’s uplifting effect on those suffering with mental illness.


Parsnips are a wonderful winter root vegetable, an excellent source of insoluble dietary fibre which can lower blood cholesterol levels and is rich in vitamin C to keep the winter lurgies away! Lovely when it’s cold outside. • • • • • • • • • •

2 tbsp butter or olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 750ml boiling water 1 veg stock cube 1 teaspoon of mild curry powder/paste 2 tbsp double cream (optional) Black pepper Chilli Flake/paprika (optional)

Fry onions in butter/oil on a medium heat, until soft (about 5 mins). Add parsnips, garlic and curry powder/paste & fry for couple of mins to release the flavours. Boil water in the kettle and add stock cube in a separate jug & mix. Add to pan & stir well. Simmer for about 15 mins until parsnips are soft & easy to break. Take off the heat & blend with a hand blender/food processor. Stir in cream (optional) & warm through. Season to taste & garnish with chilli flakes/paprika if using. Suitable for freezing.


Double recipe if making this as a main meal for a family. Add other root vegetables as well as the parsnips, if you wish.

VOLUNTEERING AT THE CMG Demi, age 23 says….. “I have only been volunteering for a few months but already feel like I have been here a lot longer as the employees, service users and other volunteers have made me feel welcome. The CMG sees people from backgrounds that are poles apart, different ages and who all have hobbies unalike but once they come together here, everyone just clicks and gets along. One thing I love about volunteering at the CMG is that you never know what activity you will be doing until you turn up; it is extremely varied. During my time here I have gardened (digging & planting crops, flower potting, apple picking etc), baked cakes, made lavender bags, attempted to sew and recently made Christmas wreaths. I enjoyed working with students from West Herts College that came down to the garden to carry out a project. They certainly brightened up the garden beds! I would definitely recommend volunteering for Garden. It’s a casual but busy, enjoyable environment to work in and has helped me build relationships with different kinds of people.”



JOIN THE TEAM! We’re looking for more volunteers to join the garden team. We need people all year round – even the winter months – to help with planting, pruning and propagating. We also need volunteers to help with creative activities, such as knitting, sewing, writing and woodwork. Come and visit the garden and see how you can get involved! To meet the garden’s staff team, please visit

ABOUT US Watford New Hope Trust (WNHT) exists to serve homeless and vulnerably-housed people by providing accommodation and opportunities to rebuild damaged lives. Founded upon Christian values, which are at the core of our operation, we support people regardless of faith. We house up to 60 people every night and help over 600 people every year.


Phone 01923 210 680

67 Queens Road



Watford New Hope Trust Watford WD17 2QN

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Garden Newsletter Winter 2013/14  

An update about what's been happening at our Community Market Garden in the last few months.

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