Fringe Box



Displaced Young People Enjoy Garden Project at St Mary’s Church

Published on: 12 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 11 Oct, 2023

The Big Leaf Foundation supports displaced young people in Surrey through a nurturing programme of projects and activities.

It helps them build fulfilling lives in the UK, grow in self-confidence, realise their potential and identify possibilities for their future while creating safe and supportive relationships in their communities.

The pictures show young people tending to the plants they have grown at St Mary’s Church, Guildford, a project hosted by the Big Leaf Foundation.

This summer it launched its first gardening project, finding a willing partner, St Mary’s Church in Quarry Street, Guildford.

The foundation’s communications and campaign co-ordinator, Evie Booton, takes up the story of the project: “We’ve wanted to include this in our services for some time, but it has been a real challenge to find the ideal plot to make a start.

“St Mary’s is a historic church which already supports refugees from Ukraine and hosts a weekly English chat and coffee session.

“Thanks to a generous donation from one of our supporters, we were able to buy essential tools and get started.

“We also benefited from the generosity of local gardeners from the Merrow Horticultural Society and Guildford Allotment Society, who gave us seeds and plants.

“Our young people cleared a mass of brambles and planted courgettes, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins and sunflowers.

“The hot weather in June gave these plants a flying start, although keeping up with the watering posed a few problems.

“We harvested our potatoes in July and held a potato party, cooking and eating them together in the churchyard. Recently, we have been steadily harvesting tomatoes and courgettes.

The garden in the churchyard.

“Inspired by this progress, we set up four other gardens in Guildford at the houses where some of our young people live.

“Each garden is different; some are container gardens, growing tomatoes and cucumbers in large pots, while others have a small garden plot with an array of vegetables and flowers.

Having a party to celebrate the fruits (and vegetables) of their labour!

“The young people have a sense of pride and ownership in these gardens, and we are proud of everything they have achieved.”

The Big Leaf Foundation is based in Woking and works across Surrey. Click here for more details.

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