Emmaus Village Carlton is situated on a former school campus, with extensive grounds surrounding the on-site charity shop, bistro and accommodation buildings. The charity decided to make better use of the green spaces by launching a Garden Project – growing food to provide training opportunities for formerly homeless companions as well as harvesting produce to benefit Emmaus.
The Garden Project has involved the redevelopment of previously unused areas into places to grow fruit and vegetables. Formerly homeless companions and new volunteers are able to learn about gardening here - boosting their skill sets through training in organic food growing, carpentry and nutrition.
The harvested produce is used as part of the bistro menu and vegetable boxes are sold to customers to take home. All funds raised are used to support the work of the charity. Produce is also used in the kitchen, providing food for Emmaus companions, staff and volunteers.
The Garden Project involves Emmaus Village Carlton companions with support from a regional charity and local volunteers. The initiative also benefits customers of the Emmaus Village Carlton bistro.
The Garden Project is being run by Emmaus Village Carlton with support from regional charity Groundwork, who provide regular on-site training and support.
The need for the Garden Project was identified as part of a wider assessment by Emmaus Village Carlton of its grounds, looking into how to make better use of them to support both the social enterprise and companions.
The project also developed as part of the charity’s ongoing plans to offer a wide range of training opportunities to the formerly homeless companions being supported
as well as a need to maximise income from customers by selling produce and reducing overheads by growing our own vegetables.
It also forms part of Emmaus Village Carlton’s drive to be more environmentally friendly, by reducing the need for bought-in ingredients and practising organic gardening methods.
The Project aims to continue to build on the initial successes, offering a greater variety of fruit and vegetables and more seasonal veg boxes.
The Garden Project is less than a year old but has achieved many successes.
• A group of companions and volunteers have completed a six-week training course, learning about organic food growing, carpentry and nutrition.
• The newly-created garden area is flourishing, with productive raised beds, polytunnels and green houses.
• New volunteers have joined the team, wanting to lend their skills and experience to the project.
• Customers have appreciated the vegetables on sale, with supplies selling out quickly each day.
• There has been an improvement in the physical and mental health of the participating companions.
• The vegetables have also contributed to the healthy diet provided for companions.
Through the development and launch of the Garden Project, the charity has established a successful partnership with Groundwork and are collaborating on additional funding bids to maximise opportunities across the site and social enterprise. Two press articles about the project have appeared in the local newspaper and have resulted in donations from a local Allotment Association and additional volunteers.
The current focus is to recruit further volunteers to assist and encourage more companions to take part in the opportunities on offer, enabling us to extend the project further.