We recently welcomed a group from a local homelessness charity to our Future Business Centre in Cambridge who take part in a community allotment project – who came laden with a stall of fresh produce picked just that morning. Cambridge Cyrenians is the oldest homelessness charity in Cambridge, and the allotment project provides specific horticulture training, supported work experience and a safe social environment for some of the most disadvantaged people in the city.
Ruth Wood, the project manager, explains “Our allotment is based on mutual aid principles, with all our group members from the Cambridge homeless community having a say in how it is run. We all enjoy the fruits of our labour and especially like to share our work and produce with local people and organisations. So, we really enjoyed our visit to the Future Business Centre”.
Our tenants at the centre were delighted to meet and chat to the group, learning about growing techniques and being able to take home some of the fresh produce – happily donating to the group in return. All the pumpkins went quite quickly, as did the butternut squash, apples, herbs and tomatoes. We’re still waiting to hear what David Broach, Director of Future Business Centres ended up doing with his Sicilian Snake Squash!
One thing that came across strongly is that the project is a hugely important to the group members – who take part for a number of reasons; respite, friendship, learning about growing and planting, eating healthily, pride in the results, and being outdoors and being positive. Some participants have commented, “When you’re homeless you can feel worthless, but when I’m here I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile”.
The visit was so well received by our centre community that we’re planning on inviting the group back in the spring, so that we can learn more tips on seasonal growing – and sample some spring fruit and vegetables. Shane, who has been part of the group for years, enjoyed the visit, saying he liked “meeting lots of people who appreciated us and the great work that we do at our beautiful allotment and for its worthwhile cause”.
To learn more about Cambridge Cyrenians allotment project go to https://cambridgecyrenians.org.uk/our-allotment-community/ and watch the short video for inspiration.