Gardening club is laying down roots at Lifehouse
published on 27 Oct 2021
As we go into the winter season, the founder of a gardening club at a Salvation Army Families Lifehouse has been reflecting on another successful year.
Vikki Farndell is an assistant support worker at Catherine Booth House in Portsmouth, which offers families experiencing homelessness support with their housing issues and other aspects of their lives.
The church and charity has more than 80 Lifehouses across the UK and Ireland and accommodates more than 3,000 people a night.
Vikki started the club last summer with Darren, who was a resident at Catherine Booth House at the time and keen to grow some plants for himself and his daughter.
Vikki explained: “Having previously worked in early years before joining Catherine Booth House I understood the importance of children being in the fresh air and how much children can learn from growing plants and being in a natural environment.
“Most of the summer we spent weeding and preparing the garden for future planting, although we did manage to grow some herbs in pots and had a few strawberries. We were joined by several families and the children enjoyed digging, exploring and watering the plants and looking after our garden area.”
Although Darren successfully moved on from Catherine Booth House last year, Vikki was determined to run the club again this summer and was joined by Sue Law, a relief worker who has her own allotment, as members took on a variety of tasks throughout the summer.
Vikki revealed: “Along with the families we planted wild flowers to attract bees. We began to build a bug house to encourage other insects to the garden. We planted sunflowers, tomatoes, spinach and sweetcorn. The children and families meet once a week for garden club.
Vikki added: “We produced many tomatoes, corns on the cob, and sweetcorn, which the families have enjoyed eating. The herbs are still growing strong and provide great sensory experience in the garden area, and the residents can freely gather them for their cooking.”
Staff at Catherine Booth House continue to work alongside play, youth and community workers from Portsmouth City Council, and it's hoped the move will give the families the knowledge and confidence to keep gardening once they move forward from Catherine Booth House.