The New Roots garden project worked with a range of clients who had experienced accommodation issues in Colchester. The allotment was created at the Big Garden Project, a community garden in High Woods Country Park.
Through weekly sessions with experienced gardeners Aidan Barty and Marina O’Connell from the Apricot Centre, participants developed new skills, growing their own fruit and vegetables and learning about healthy eating.
Outreach sessions were held in the venues of organisations which the clients regularly accessed such as Sanctuary House, Beacon House and the Colchester Night Shelter. Bringing the garden to the clients through a simple planting exercise generated interest and developed trust. It resulted in seven clients attending follow up sessions at the allotment.
Providing transport to the site and lunch during the sessions also motivated people to attend. In total 32 people took part in the project during the 35 sessions between March and September 2011. All the participants had experienced an aspect of homelessness, some were street homeless, others were sofa surfing or staying in sheltered accommodation.
On 21 September 2011, a final harvest of the produce was used for a feast celebration for clients at the allotment. The New Roots allotment will continue as part of the Big Garden Project which is open to everyone in the community. This is managed by CBC parks department.