May 4th The darling buds
Finally it feels warmer. Though late, the blossom is on the trees, the sap is well risen, and Hope’s gardening project has finally begun planting.
People sometimes say to me, ‘why are you interested in gardening, I thought you was a homelessness agency?’ Of course Hope is and always has been about poverty and disadvantage generally, of which homelessness is the most obvious and worst example. Our programmes and activities tackle this disadvantage systemically, helping people survive hunger and need for washing and clothing, advocacy for their housing needs, shelter, alongside helping people overcome addictions, manage mental health issues, and find new skills and confidence to improve their employability. Gardening can play a big role in these processes and how we offer them.
Hope is very much about using food as part of this programme. We run a day centre feeding 120 people a day; we supply affordable food to growing numbers in our foodclub, and we serve hundreds of meals a week through Hope Catering, one of our social enterprises, which trains people in catering. We use and need lots of food, which is where a gardening project comes in. It grows healthy fresh veg for our day centre and foodclub, improving diet, reducing food miles, and giving opportunities to train and learn horticulture, or just spend some time in the fresh air getting away from your troubles. Gardening is good for the soul, and good economics too. It improves public health by doing it and by what it produces. Affordable healthy veg addresses and alleviates poverty, and anyone, however poor can grow some veg or herbs, if only in a pot. By helping our service users participate in it, we help them grow as people, and as growers of food for their plate. That’s why it’s part of Hope.
And that’s also why Hope is now involved in the Northampton Town Sustainable Food Strategy, led by the Transition Town Network. This project is about more than food poverty; it’s about improving access to affordable healthy food, grown and produced locally, understood in its value by all and accessible to all. We have to be involved. Read more here –