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Speedwell Court Kitchen Garden Reaches New Heights With The Aid Of Sky Volunteers

Speedwell Court, a dementia-friendly care home for older people in Southampton’s West End, has recently been visited by a team of volunteers from Sky TV.

A dozen people gave their time at the home, which is managed by The Abbeyfield Society. The volunteers worked for a day to help with the progression of a new kitchen garden, which the home is creating to improve its green credentials and encourage its residents – all of whom are over the age of 50 – to get more involved in the preparation of their meals.

The home’s gardener, Mark Line, and Catering Manager, Sam Woodhouse, have put the ‘seed to feed’ project together.

They explained, “We have three core aims for the seed to feed programme at Speedwell Court: to provide a fun, engaging and accessible gardening activity for the residents, to reduce waste, and to improve the nutritional value of our meals by using fresh seasonal produce. Due to the cost of living crisis, there is no time like the present for Speedwell Court to carry out this initiative, which has been championed by residents and staff alike. It will has a great positive impact on the environment, building facilities to grow fresh produce, which will benefit our residents.”

Sky chose Speedwell Court as their volunteering destination because James Ion, one of the Sky volunteers, is familiar with great work of the home, as his mother is a resident.

Once settled, the team from Sky got to work weeding, mowing, painting the decking area, moving four tonnes of woodchip, creating a new outdoor seating area and installing new fences.

Speedwell Court General Manager, Rhona Bray, said, “We are very grateful to the volunteers from Sky for helping to take our kitchen garden to the next level.

“As well as a great addition for our residents, we are keen to involved the local community in this project, whether it be through business’ employee volunteering programmes, the contribution of local schoolchildren or donations and gifts in kind from nearby suppliers.”

Children from Riverside Pre-School have worked alongside the residents to help to plant seeds in the greenhouse, which they will be monitoring over the next few weeks.

The home has also managed to source free woodchip, timber and various other items from Freecycle. Homebase, in nearby Winchester, have also supported the project by donating compost, fruit trees and seed packets, while Eastleigh B&Q and Southampton Airport have given more seeds, tools, and equipment, and the latter a small donation. They have also secured two grants from the Southern Co-op Greener Neighbourhoods fund and the W.G. Edwards Charitable Foundation, and are continuing to look into different funding opportunities.