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A Visitor’s View

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I only went to visit Des at Growing Futures as I simply got tired of him constantly going on about it and showing me endless pictures of plants, vegetable beds and a huge shed in various states of construction.

Well I was AMAZED…! It is hard to find words to express exactly what this man has achieved with a derelict piece of land and a few disaffected young people. I spent the day with him and not only was I inspired into becoming a learner and vegetable grower myself, I have also never worked so hard in my life…!

We arrived at about 8.30am needing a cup of tea to ease off the early chill of the morning, as well as the uninspiring prospect of spending the day in what looked like a ramshackle hut on a plot of rough land behind some high metal gates.

Des had suggested the tea so my heart dropped when he rummaged under a pile of wood and pulled out a blackened and battered kettle…I began to realise that there was not going to be any electricity and wondered how on earth I was going to get through the day.

Des went and got some water and pointed to a pile of bricks with a rusty and burnt metal grid on the top and said enthusiastically, ‘lets get a fire started’, as he handed me a set of flints… I spent the next 10 minutes trying unsuccessfully to get the flame to catch with Des encouraging me. Eventually, with the kernel of a delicate flame burning in a small pile of tissue and brush in my hand, the fire was coaxed into roaring life within the brick fireplace. Strangely, as the fire roared into life, so I roared back, whooping and coughing with foul mouthed delight, as I scrambled over the broken wooden pallets to feed my fiery creation.

As we drank our tea we admired the flames, the vegetable beds and compost heap, the broken pallets and half made  and upturned planters.  Des talked me through the simple, but powerful learning that I had just experienced and offered an explanation of what just happened to me and happens to all that spend a little time at ‘Growing Futures’. As he talked, I began to see the order and design behind an apparent muddle of wood, boxes and piles of soil; his enthusiasm infectious, I found myself drawn into a world of planting, seedlings, polytunnels, and manure.

Des always returns to the learning; why Pythagoras is easy to learn here, perimeters, areas, co-ordination, manual dexterity and task co-operation. His purpose is clear, ‘Growing Futures’ is a learning environment, from the simple task of preparing a fire for a cup of tea to making herb tea bags from the wide variety of plants grown on the plot.Featured image

As a group of young people arrived on the site for the day, Des reminded me that everything built and prepared on the site was done by the young learners, so it did not matter that the shed was not ‘square’ as it was made by them and the learning was achieved…we both looked up at the roof and laughed…I laughed some more but quietly to myself, as I stood back and watched the young people walk into the shed…as the first one through the door declared loudly to the others, ‘I built this… and I fucking painted it as well!’ It would take too long to list all the different tasks completed on that day or the variety of skilful interactions between Des and the belligerent, the keen, the shy, the sullen, the intrigued and the inspired. I certainly left inspired by the experience and am pleased to report that I have now planted radishes, onions, broccoli, beetroot, and sweetcorn at home, put up a greenhouse and built a standing herb planter and I only visited ‘Growing Futures’ for the day!

NEWS>>>>

Desmond had a very positive meeting today with the engineering students at City of Bristol College.They will begin their projects down at Growing Futures mid June.

Growing Futures will be shut for a week after the bank holiday 26 May – 2 June.

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Well its been a busy old few months down at Growing Futures. Learners from KTS started the year, working through the cold, wet and mud to put up our new classroom, landscaping,painting and garden maintenance.Big shout to Robson from KTS Yate, who really got involved and worked hard.  Featured imageLearners then planned and sowed seeds into the polytunnel, researching the types of veg and their timings, planting radishes, onion, potatoes, lettuces, rainbow chard, spinach, pak choi, beans, peas tomatoes amongst others. With Danny’s help, lFeatured imageearners  grow over 300 plants in the polytunnel. KTS Learners are now 2 weeks into the Summer programme. Learners built a large 13ft sq raised beds planting out, the plants from the polytunnel, Making a microgreens garden out of some old church pews.Still loads more to do, looking forward to Friday when our first volunteers begin.

What else has happened…..oh yeah…I went over to Golden Hills amazing community gardens for a couple of days at the end of April, working with Creative Youth Network and the brilliant Lucy, teaching young people how to build planter boxes.

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