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UK: Why I volunteer – “The allotment is creating a ripple of good for the community”

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Kerry Ford, 36, offered her gardening skills to Family Action’s Escape Allotment and Discovery Garden Project in Norfolk, and even found a new career path

By Bethan Rose Jenkins
Good Housekeeping
June 5, 2024


Flicking on the kettle of the allotment’s small kitchenette, I look out across the landscape. Three large polytunnels house plump figs and grapes, which are growing nicely; the freshly sown vegetable patch is starting to produce green shoots; and the apple trees look ready for pruning. As I stir the milk into my tea, I wave to fellow volunteers who are walking over, ready to begin another day’s gardening.

I joined the Escape Allotment and Discovery Garden Project in Norfolk just over a year ago, after seeing it advertised on a local Facebook page. I’ve always been a wildlife lover and keen amateur gardener, so I hoped I’d have skills to offer. When I arrived at the Escape project, one of the two co-ordinators, Tess, explained how it supports adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues, as connecting with nature improves the wellbeing of attendees and helps build their confidence, too.

So I began volunteering at Escape one day a week. Depending on the day (and the weather!), there can be anywhere from two to a dozen people working across the allotments, and there’s a whole mix of people who get involved. We host dedicated days for neurodivergent members and I love getting creative and running special events with the team, such as music sessions and themed lunches for occasions such as Earth Day. It’s all about building resilience in the community by teaching people how to grow food themselves and helping them develop self-sufficiency skills.

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