Monday, 20 July 2009

Let the digging begin...(Guest blog)

Wandsworth WI has found a novel way to combine the No More Violence Against Women campaign and the WI’s commitment to environmental sustainability by planting a vegetable garden for a women’s refuge in south London.

It really hit home to me what being part of the Women's Institute is all about last week when we did our first 'official' WI project together. We are a fairly new WI in Wandsworth and I am a very new President in this world of fabulously established, intelligent, beautiful and terribly witty women of the WI. It must be said that I formed the Wandsworth branch because not only did I aspire to be a Calendar Girl but I saw this as a way to campaign for things I truly believe in and genuinely do good things for the community I live in.

Our chosen charity is the Wandswoth Women's Aid, a fantastic organisation that houses women and children that have experienced domestic violence (which is obviously one of the WI's biggest campaigns). We thought long and hard about how we could add just a small something to enhance their lives after having been through such an ordeal. So we applied for a grant from Capital Growth to plant a kitchen garden in their backyard and were lucky enough to get it!

So the work began.... We prepared for a couple of months prior to the planting and finally on a(thankfully sunny) Sunday we embarked on mission one - clearing the garden. A big thanks to Fiskars for getting us some of the most fabulous tools any of us have ever used as they made the gardening easy and fun, not a chore at all!

The photographs show how much work we did, clearing, digging and planting yummy veggies for the ladies and children to grow and eat. We have began creating a manual for the house so they all know exactly what is growing and how to look after it as well as delicious, simple and easy recipes too. Hopefully if this project is a success we can roll it out nationally as the WWA is just one of hundreds of shelters throughout the UK - maybe there is one that could use the same care near you?

I can tell you there were a lot of emotions felt by all of us girls throughout the day and there were a few tears of joy as the sun went down over the beautiful garden we had created. Even more tears came as we watched the children's excitement once we had finished. They all swore they would love the garden as much as we do and according to the WWA they have been guarding it ever since and when the first tomatoes were red and ready to eat last week, well it was like Christmas had come early!

Rebecca Sullivan, Wandsworth WI President (Guest blogger).

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