Spirits lifted thanks to blooming brilliant Ipswich community garden

Chantry Walled Garden in Ipswich

Chantry Walled Garden in Ipswich - Credit: ActivLives

People with learning disabilities have continued to be supported under lockdown through a community garden in Ipswich. 

ActivLives sells plants and produce locally – including honey from their bees – thanks to the efforts of volunteers and staff in Chantry and Maidenhall. 

Veg boxes and fresh produce are available in Ipswich thanks to the charity

Veg boxes and fresh produce are available in Ipswich thanks to the charity - Credit: ActivLives

A Chantry Walled Garden volunteer said: "I’m so grateful for this project. I don’t know what I would have done without it. I’ve met lots of people – lots of children, and lots of dogs!

“It’s made a big difference to my life. When I come to the garden, the first thing I do is I walk all around, see all the flowers, and it gives me a lift."

Another attendee at the ActivGardens project added: "We also have giggle, we always have a laugh. There’s always some nice produce to take home. Maybe it’s rhubarb or potatoes or beans, squash, courgettes as well. So that’s the benefit of being a volunteer – you get a little bit of free produce.

"The thing is with mental health, it can affect you on any day. It can be a beautiful day, and you’ve got something in your head.

"But the thing is when I know I want to be somewhere and I want to choose to be somewhere, it’s that incentive to say – right I know I’m not feeling great but I’m needed, I’m wanted, and I push myself.

Lovely flowers at People's Community Garden

Lovely flowers at People's Community Garden in Maidenhall - Credit: ActivLives

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"Sometimes it’s a hard slog, but there’s rewards at the end of it. You’re swimming out of your comfort zone but if you don’t break out of that, you don’t change.

"Being here has helped me change. I’ve noticed changes in myself and others around me. And when days are not great we pep each other up. It’s listen, chat, chill. And lots of cuppas."

At the moment, under lockdown, ActivGardens run sessions for up to 15 people on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the community garden, with a volunteer team of older people running the community nursery in Chantry Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

People's Community Garden

The People's Community Garden in Maidenhall - Credit: ActivLives

Its main project, Grow Your Future, is for the long-term unemployed people with mental health issues, and people with learning disabilities.

The walled garden in Chantry will reopen to the general public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm from March 30. 

Another project in Sudbury will open in April.

If you can help by volunteering please get in touch with Susannah Robirosa susannah@activlives.org.uk or call ActivLives 01473 345350. 

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