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Tenants training makes garden grow

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Published by Tracey Errington for Eden Housing Association Limited in Communities and also in Health, Housing

Green fingers at Edeh Housing Association Green fingers at Edeh Housing Association

The success of last year’s training programme organised by Eden Housing Association (EHA) led to more tenants and residents taking up new skills ranging from car maintenance, first aid and growing veg in their gardens. And for one of their residents, this training opportunity planted a seed to learn even more about gardening and ‘growing your own’.

Ian Douthwaite from Greystoke first attended one of the garden training sessions at Newton Rigg in 2010. It inspired him to take an allotment and start growing his own fruit and vegetables. After taking part in the 2012 follow up training programme, Ian was encouraged to attend the Newton Rigg College Open Evening and applied to study a BTEC Diploma in Horticulture (Level 3).

At Newton Rigg College on May 21st this year, Ian is helping with the delivery of the ‘Grow your own made easy’ gardening course for Eden Housing Association – it will become part of his investigative project for his BTEC qualification.

Jenny Arragon, Community Development Officer for Eden Housing Association said “Ian is a qualified chef who has a natural love of fresh produce. He is a great example of how our training programme can add value and create opportunity for our residents.  Many of those who attended grow your own courses have started producing some of their own vegetables, but Ian is the first to take it a stage further to gain extra qualifications.

We’re really excited about May’s ‘Grow Your Own Made Easy’ course because we’ll see how far Ian has travelled on his green fingered journey  and because it aims to inspire more of our residents  to attend and learn how easy it can be to grow your own. This is the fifth year we have been working with Newton Rigg College and we always get great feedback from our residents.”

Looking back at the training provided by Eden Housing Association Ian Douthwaite said “I’ve really enjoyed all the training and was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was. It’s informal and educational and the free lunch is excellent! They really made me feel at ease and I was able to ask advice about my own gardening projects – which was especially useful once I got my allotment as I’ve learned how to make creative use of my space. The trick is to grow fruit and veg that are expensive to buy and easy to grow - things like asparagus, beans, new potatoes, strawberries and raspberries.”

Ian is full time carer for his wife so uses his one day a week at Newton Rigg College as a respite day, he says “it means I learn and grow fresh fruit and vegetables and my wife takes real pleasure in making jams and preserves.”

Now helping with the EHA training course Ian will use the investigative part of his course to assist with soil sample analysis. Those that attend the course in May will be asked to bring along soil samples from their gardens so they can look at the best use of their soil. Attendees will also learn about crop rotation, growing soft fruit and will also sow salad crop to take home and plant. Lunch will be served in Brambles Café and attendees will also be given a private tour of the college’s working gardens.

The tenant and resident training programme is well established at Eden Housing Association, providing diverse training and learning opportunities, most of which are at the request of residents and all of which provide useful skills for life.

Some of the most popular courses include cooking for one, first aid and gardening.  Jenny Arragon is still working on the 2014 programme which includes sessions on how to create garden features with Adam Tracey from Adam of Eden, the first of these sessions is at Rampkin House in Appleby on May 13th.

The ‘Grown Your Own Made Easy’ course at Newton Rigg takes place on May 21st – to book any of the courses, contact Jenny Arragon at Eden Housing Association on  01768 861435.

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