Lending a hand
By Melanie Dayasena-Lowe
Have you ever wondered where the lovely fresh fruit and veg comes from when you eat at Mudlarks' Hertford cafe? It is all locally sourced from the charity's very own allotment in Cromwell Road, Hertford.
From growing vegetables and plants to making quince jelly, the Mudlarks gardeners are not only contributing to the local community by producing fresh produce but they are also providing a safe and enjoyable environment for those that need some extra help in life. The Mudlarks allotment is maintained and cared for by a lovely group of people comprising of Mudlarks regular allotment gardeners, staff and volunteers. The charity supports adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues and aims to help integrate them into the community through gardening, as well as supporting students that are currently studying horticulture.
The allotment, which is open to the public, has space for up to 20 gardeners each day and is open Monday to Friday. The site is fully focused on sustainability through composting of old veg and roots, a compositing toilet on site and recycling everything, including crisp packets for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
Allotment manager Liz and her team have a lovely relationship with all the regular gardeners that come to work on the allotment, with some needing one-to-one support while others work independently with a small amount of guidance.
On Mondays the allotment team prepare the cafe order for the week so the priority is to make sure the produce is fresh and clean, all ready for the cafe's use that week. During the rest of the week, the allotment gardeners have the opportunity to take part in all aspects of allotment gardening on their individual plot including planting, nurturing and harvesting fruit and vegetables. They also undertake general allotment tasks in the communal areas such as preparing the ground for planting, fencing, upkeep of allotment buildings, general carpentry, woodwork projects and craft activities.
I really enjoyed my volunteering day with the Mudlarks allotment team. It was a far cry from my day-to-day job as a journalist in the city but it was thoroughly rewarding. I met such lovely people and it was refreshing to challenge myself to do something different, to support the local community and help a fantastic charity like Mudlarks.
If you would like to volunteer at Mudlarks Allotment or Community Café please email firstname.lastname@example.org