Grow Organic Case studies - Adults
Y initially joined BCEP for two programmes of winter walks. When
funding for these ceased, she joined one of our regular women's
allotment groups, and is now a key member. More recently, she has also
joined the cycling group, based at BCEP with the CTC's Cycling Champion.
She has previously admitted that she knew very little about gardening at the beginning - yet last year her garden won a shield in the local best garden competition! The group's produce has also won prizes in the annual West Yorkshire Organic Group fruit and vegetable show.
She has taken a leading role in promoting the group, participating in an interview on local radio, and speaking at an International Women's Day event in front of 50 people. At the allotments association meeting, she interpreted between Urdu and English to enable some of the older plotholders with limited English to participate fully in the meeting. She has also put her name down on the waiting list for an allotment of her own, which her family will help with.
This is how she told her own story.
'As a mother of four teenage boys, I'm the busiest woman in the neighbourhood.y time was constantly spent in cleaning and cooking, plus a part time job on the till.
My health was being affected by headaches, pain all over the body. To start my day I used to take a painkiller.
Three years ago, my friend introduced me to BCEP. I experienced that the outside environment is a self-prescribed tranquilliser. My headaches have certainly lessened. I definitely can start my day without a painkiller.
Touching the soil is the most soothing thing I've experienced. The joy of planting one potato and harvesting up to 25 is immense. Looking at the plants and flowers growing from seeds is a wonder in itself.
I can't put the benefits into words. Come and join us and experience it for yourself!'
Case study of one of the women written by worker from partner organisation
Z attended the [allotment] project between September 2009 and December 2009 with [partner organisation].
Z was referred to [partner organisation] by the Probation service and has long standing mental health issues, with a regular history of self harm. It was always difficult to engage Z in any conversation, and she struggled to cope in group activities.
Z was at first unsure about attending the allotment due to her lack of confidence in group settings, but as the weeks went by she became more talkative. She loved the work, and as soon as she arrived she would check the plants and delighted in how they had grown.
There was a visible change in Z during this period which was commented
on by other staff and customers as she became more confident and
engaging with others at the project, Her offending and self-harming
also reduced over this time and she stated that attending the
allotments contributed to her increased sense of wellbeing.
Note from BCEP programme worker:
She can no longer attend, but apparently she talks about how she ismissing the allotment.
When she was coming she never missed a week, and although she didn’t talk a lot, she was engrossed in what she was doing, obviously enjoying it and was quickly capable of taking on new tasks.
Born in Pakistan, [X] came to this country as a teenager to get
married. She has 8 children, and 5 grandchildren. She went to school
in Pakistan and learned good English, but did not complete
Metriculation. Once in UK, she had no opportunity to continue
She has been advised by the doctor to exercise more, being 'borderline' diabetic, and a little overweight.
She first came into contact with BCEP through the women's winter walking programmes we ran at one time. There, she heard about the women's growing group which was gardening weekly on a local allotment. Eventually she tried it, and was hooked!
'Growing food - it's amazing when you see how they grow. It's not the same when you buy it in a packet. It's also good for the health. … Working in the fresh air is good, you change your mood with exercise.'
Now her own garden is also blooming - even neighbours comment that she does 'a marvellous job'.
She's proud to share new knowledge with others:
'My friend's garden is really big. She was always waiting for the gardener to come and take [out] the weeds. But now she does it herself, and I've been helping her.'
Her husband is changing his eating habits - he used to only want meat, but now he enjoys mixed vegetable curries including allotment produce.
Jerusalem artichokes were an unexpected hit this year: the whole family enjoyed the new taste. The second batch she took home were passed on to her husband's friend: 'We had a taste last time, so now he passed it on!'
She always brings new women into the group, including an Indian Hindu, an elderly white woman, and her daughter. Always an ambassador, she recognises the value of new experiences:
'I said to my friend, I enjoy it so much, why don't you come and look for yourself. You don't need to spend any money, just your time! There's a special teacher there to help you, and you learn something. … I think it should be passed on, to new ladies, and the new generation.'
She is a great asset, keeping the group together, recruiting new members, helping us liaise with allotment neighbours, and helping develop ideas for a programme for new growers.
This year, she learned to cycle through the CTC's (BCEP-based) cycling champion - and spoke in public at the Black Environment Network Conference in Manchester!
She is one of oldest members of the group. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes 4 years ago. Since her diagnosis, she has made many changes to her lifestyle. She has started swimming, and goes walking with her friend twice a week, weather permitting.
She is an enthusiastic member of the group, as she explained:
'My son, who’s studying to be a GP, always tells me to be more active in physical exercise, he says to me that, because I have diabetes and high blood pressure, there’s more chance of me having a stroke or heart attack. I never miss any sessions and try to do a lot of digging at each session.'
She attends the gardening sessions twice a week. She feels that the gardening has helped her in terms of losing weight. She now eats more healthily, is more aware of what type of food to eat or not eat. She says that the healthy eating sessions and discussions on healthy eating have helped her understand more about what foods are good for her and what foods she should avoid eating. She enjoys coming to the sessions and seeing her friends.
[W] is an independent woman who enjoys her life. She is continually gaining in confidence. She has done courses to help her improve her English, achieving level 6 in ESOL. She currently is studying another course which is enabling her to further her English and numeracy skills.
She is always keen to learn new skills try new experiences. She visited the famous bulb gardens in Netherlands with BCEP last year and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. She has also taken advantage of the cycling classes provided by the BCEP-based CTC cycle champion.
She has recruited other women to the group, convincing them of the value of gardening and healthy eating.