Growing in Harmony
Our growing in Harmony site is where we grow various kinds of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Based at Kirkleatham between the owl centre and the museum, the site is predominantly an education and training facility where we teach volunteers about horticulture, assist them in developing employability skills, and often provide references when they move on towards paid work. Currently we are participating in the government's Kickstart scheme which has allowed us to provide paid work for six months for four young people, Dan, Molly, Ryan and Thomas, read more about our brilliant new staff here.
Rebuilding after C-19
During the Covid-19 crisis many of our volunteers have struggled with mental health and isolation and as soon as we were able, we contacted the council for permission to welcome them back safely. Since then our Kirkleatham site has become a safe haven for many. The therapeutic value of being outdoors and working with plants can't be underestimated at times like this and the opportunity to get out of the house and talk to other people has been equally valuable for many, as can be seen in this video with our volunteer, Zoe.
As we rebuild our community, welcoming back volunteers who have been cautious to attend since the beginning of the crisis and bringing in new volunteers, our focus is on developing structured activity that is aimed at bringing people together and improving their wellbeing and mental health.
We plan to create a mindfulness garden in which events will be held, including relaxation groups, meditation, tai chi or craft groups.
We are also ensuring that there is a support structure in place so that any participant will know that there is someone to talk to any time they need to and we will also be holding peer support groups where people can share their experience and support one another.
One of our main aims at IHFR has always been to support people in fulfilling their potential and our focus on personal development will continue through this next phase of our journey.
Mental health needs have increased dramatically over the last 16 months and with a survey by Mind reporting that 65% of adults and 75% of young people have experienced a decline in mental health from early April to mid May 2021, it's clear to us that a long term approach to support is needed.
Growing in Harmony's History
When we first took over the site we discovered that the land was of very poor quality so rather than try to plant in the soil we built a number of raised beds for growing. We were able to begin doing this with the support of local companies like Scott Brothers who donated more than 40 tons of compost and topsoil to fill the beds and Wiltons engineering who donated the scaffolding boards we used to make them. We hope to build more raised beds to increase our growing space in the future with further kind donations. If you are a company able to offer us a donation, whether financial or supplies, please contact Francis on 07707504453
Growing in Harmony has provided some really valuable educational opportunities for diverse groups in our local community, from people studying for apprenticeships to individual volunteers to young offenders and people who visit from the prison. Whether they are working towards a qualification, working towards a fresh start or simply working for the joy of it, the site offers opportunities to learn about horticulture, woodworking, small animal care and many other practical skills.
As environmental awareness increases more and more of us are seeking out alternatives to commercially produced food and for some this means growing our own. While it's beyond the resources and capabilities of most of us to grow everything we eat, even growing a little of our food can help. If you'd love to do this but don't know where to start, volunteering at our Growing in Harmony project is a great way to learn!
The Growing in Harmony project and our community growing project at Skinningrove were inspired by the Havana urban food growing model in which the people of Cuba, motivated by food shortages in a time of economic crisis, began using all available space, no matter how small, to grow food. Our hope is that we can show that a small space or an urban environment need not be a barrier to growing food. The Havana model uses a technique called organoponics, a Cuban invention distinguished from other intensive growing methods by the absence of chemicals and reliance on an organic substrate obtained from crop residues, household waste and animal manures, making it an environmentally friendly and sustainable approach.