Jan Johnson: “Getting myself out after my husband’s death was one of the hardest things I have ever done but my interest in gardening was the obvious place to start when looking for something to get involved with.”

As spring approaches, over 50s are being encouraged to get out and share their skills, know-how and passion for gardening, as part of a district-wide initiative to reduce loneliness and isolation.

Gardening can improve health, physical strength, mobility and mental wellbeing.

Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service (LCVS), in association with Talk, Eat and Drink East Lindsey (T.E.D.), is encouraging over 50s to get involved with the thriving scene of community gardening projects and gardening societies in the district.

Kathryn Laverack, T.E.D. Project Officer for Lincolnshire CVS (LCVS), said: “East Lindsey offers a wealth of opportunities to either get physical by getting involved in a community garden project or to get out and meet like-minded gardeners through the flourishing network of gardening clubs and societies.”

Community gardening projects across the district offer access to all different types of garden environments from ‘grow your own’ to wildlife habitat management. Many also involve intergenerational projects, bringing together older and younger members of the community.

Projects volunteers and communities can get involved with include Spout Yard Park in Louth, Sir Joseph Banks Tribute Garden, in Horncastle; the restored gardens at Alford Manor House and the community gardens at the Meridale Centre in Sutton on Sea.

A gardening activity day takes place at Farlesthorpe Nature Reserve, near Alford, 10am to 4pm, every Monday. Everyone is welcome.

David Hickman, Chairman of Burgh Angling Society which runs the reserve, said: “We attract both experienced and novice gardeners. There are plenty of opportunities to get your hands dirty, from weeding, bulb planting and general maintenance along with chances to get involved in the design and development of the site by helping with hard landscaping, planting schemes, habitat development and school and community events.”

Jan Johnson (70), of Louth, says her love of gardening helped her get out and meet people after the death of her husband, Gordon.

She went on to set up, with a friend, Louth-based gardening focused special interest group WEADS, where members meet monthly to share knowledge, swap plants and visit gardens.

Jan, a mum of three and grandmother of five, said: “Getting myself out after my husband’s death was one of the hardest things I have ever done but my interest in gardening was the obvious place to start when looking for something to get involved with.

“I got in touch with the Louth and District Gardening Society and have never looked back.

“Ten years on, I have a very busy social calendar. I am still an active member of the Gardening Society and have joined many other organisations since, including the U3A (University of the third age) and Louth WEA (Workers’ Educational Association).

“Once you start with one thing, people recommend other things to you.

“I have tried all sorts of things from Aquacise to learning about Medieval Graffiti in churches! You just have to try these things to find out what you like doing best.

“After being a member of Louth and District Gardening Society I was invited to become a committee member which I did for six years, getting involved in organising the events programme and also a bit of fundraising.

“This was another turning point for me. It wasn’t just about meeting new people and learning about gardening anymore, it was about getting my confidence back. It was the team work and the responsibility of the committee work that really made me feel like me again.

“It has also taught me to appreciate the importance of having good policies and procedures to follow and also the time and effort put in by volunteers to make sure that these activities are kept going.

“Gardeners are very generous when it comes to knowledge sharing which makes them really good company. I would encourage anyone with a passion for gardening, particularly if like me you are on your own, to get out and get involved with a local group. You never know who you are going to meet or where it will take you.”

For more information on getting involved with a local community garden, club or society, or if you would like to encourage others to join your group, contact: Kathryn Laverack, T.E.D. Project Officer at Lincolnshire CVS, email ted@lincolnshirecvs.org.uk or phone 01205 510888, Option 5, for the East Lindsey office.

Talk, Eat and Drink East Lindsey (T.E.D.) is part of the Big Lottery funded ‘Ageing Better’ programme. The aim of T.E.D is to work with local organisations to help older people stay healthier and happier for longer and make East Lindsey a great place to live in later life.

LCVS works to support community groups and encourage and enable volunteering.

 

Members of the WEADS special interest group who meet monthly to share their knowledge and learn about gardening, from left: Liz Crowe, Mavis Cumberland, Norma Belletty, Sheila Read, Ann Stevenson, Jan Johnson, Annie Doherty, Jill Day.

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