A visit to Thistles Market Garden

Students are always hard at work out at our partner unit Thistles Market Garden in Sutterton. In addition to tending the plants they also brush up on their numeracy and literacy skills once a week on a course with our  tutor Don Jenkins.

thistles-10_27720416022_o

Planters made from railway sleepers and filled with a variety of plants

The organisation is managed by Liz and Sue who have shown admirable determination and commitment to steadily build up the site from a piece of overgrown land. They describe Thistles as a horticultural day service for adults with learning disabilities. Service users will learn a variety of skills including growing from seed, potting on, weeding,  producing hanging baskets and lawn maintenance. In addition, service users benefit from increased happiness, life skills, friendship and a sense of belonging to a team.

Thanks to the resourcefulness of these two ladies the site now has new paths, classroom space, an office, a kitchen and a log cabin as well as multiple sheds …most impressive!

27745861481_160d6320fb_o

Thistles, Sutterton

I was shown around the site by two students, Andrew and Kate. The students showed me their favourite plants (strawberries, cabbage,tomatoes, and sweetcorn to name a few! ) and explained how they care for the tender plants in the polytunnels as well as showing the impressive raised bed area packed full of flowers and scented herbs.

thistles-8_27720404232_o

My excellent tour guides on a very hot day… before we got back in the shade of the classroom!

 

It seems the students really enjoy the process of plant and vegetable cultivation as well as producing items to sell for funds for ongoing projects. There are big plans ahead for an improved kitchen area, so  produce can be cooked on the site.

27720595692_6056e30b17_o

Grape vines in the polytunnel

 

The students have also created a small orchard with a wealth of different apple varieties which Andrew described as being hard work but worth it!

thistles-9_27745692801_o

The Apple Orchard and quiet seating area

 

Don’s class begins on a Tuesday afternoon after lunch. Students begin the session with a matching pictures quiz often themed around a topic. The week before my visit it had been a sports theme however this week the topic was ladies accessories. The session progresses with  maths, writing and reading tasks. Each task is tailored to the individual so that they can learn at their own pace.

thistles-4_27821597045_o

A riot of activity and colour! the classroom area is the bottom building

Students have their achievements recorded and praised by Don and the students said they feel happy with their progress.  One student explained how learning to count in multiples of two had helped her learn how to check and budget her money independently and this made her feel more  confident. She now shares the skills she has learned from the course with her housemates. Another student can now recognise and read road signs as a result of the course which he was unable to do before.

 

Students clearly work very hard to make progress and achieve good results and the Thistles staff and tutor Don justifiably feel extremely proud of them.

In fact..(no blushing Don! ) Don himself  was recently inspected and rated as an outstanding tutor and the students and WEA  feel this praise was richly deserved!

As the session drew to a close there was time for a lesson recap and then a quick recall quiz (personally I struggled to keep up…but it was quite hot and I was flagging by then!) then it was time for home.

Thistles is a wonderful, colourful, busy and positive place. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with the friendly people there and I hope to visit again soon.

thistles

What is a weed… but a flower in the wrong place? Thistles used to cover the site

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s