Focus on Our Members
This week’s feature is on the HOPE Organic Garden & Shop, based at Hospitalfield in Arbroath. HOPE is a charity that provides garden training and work experience for people with learning disabilities in Angus. The charity was set up by Dr Cedric DeVoil, a local GP, who saw the benefits that gardening and training would bring to people suffering from depression and other illnesses. It was a successful venture and last year HOPE celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Every summer HOPE produces organic vegetables, salad, fruit and herbs which are sold to the local community. We are a registered organic grower with the Soil Association.HOPE has four members of staff and a dedicated band of volunteers who help to ensure that the eighteen trainees are always at the centre of what happens in the garden. This year, because of Covid-19 it’s been a challenge, but the Trustees and gardeners have worked together and have taken innovative gardening projects to the trainees on homes. These have included growing sunflowers, planting onion sets, projects with bees and insects, colouring initiatives and currently growing amaryllis lilies.
Several of the trainees have Autism, Asperger’s or other long term conditions so this has been a lifeline for them and their families. With photographs and an active Facebook page and website, the aim has been to make everyone still feel connected with what is growing in the Garden and their place at HOPE.During the pandemic the charity was unable to open the shop and sell the organic produce, so they got together with another local charity (Reach Across) to provide fresh food boxes every week for vulnerable families in Arbroath. The boxes also included a series of ‘Easy Peasy’ recipes to help people make simple meals. This community action has really benefitted people across Arbroath.
Currently the gardeners are making the annual Christmas wreaths which are being sold in the HOPE Garden Shop. The head gardener is also busy planning workshops for the trainees on bees and insects and herbs. Everyone is hoping that in Spring 2021 HOPE will be able to welcome all the trainees back into the garden. To find out more please visit their website or Facebook page