Eaton Barn Community Garden - our vision
Our vision is a beautiful and tranquil safe space for people to learn and grow together.
Enjoying the sunshine in the garden
Eaton Barn Community Garden - our garden and our team
Eaton Barn is an award-winning Community Garden set on a four acre site in the beautiful North Herefordshire countryside, providing support and horticultural activities for people with learning disabilities, physical and sensory disabilities and mental health needs and a space to learn and grow for people in the local community, reaching out to older people, carers and veterans. It is run by local learning disability charity ECHO in partnership with Haygrove Community Gardens and provides a safe, peaceful space where around 200 people a month benefit from the tranquillity of the outdoor environment, learning new skills in horticulture, crafts and conservation, improving physical and mental health and well-being and making new friends.
At Eaton Barn we have a vegetable garden, fruit cage, small orchard, poly tunnels, chickens, a beehive and woodland as well as a wildlife and riverside area. People who attend can learn how to grow a variety of plants for sale, including bedding plants, cut flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables and trees, and during the winter months we make seasonal crafts from natural materials. We have a small farm shop where we sell our produce as well as craft items made by disabled artists, and an outdoor classroom where we run courses in rural crafts such as willow weaving. We have eight community allotments, one of which is taken by our local special school, who have been using it as a work-based learning project for sixth form pupils supported by school staff.
Eaton Barn is run by a team of two staff members and nine volunteers, seven of whom are recovering from mental health and addiction issues.
Planting in the vegetable garden
Award winning project
In June this year we were part of Leominster In Bloom and were successful in attaining the Royal Horticultural Society’s In Bloom ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ Award at level 5 ‘Outstanding’. We were the first ever project in the history of the awards to achieve this, the highest level, at the first attempt, thanks to the efforts of our participants with learning disabilities, our amazing volunteer team and our two dedicated staff members, Sarah and Bev. We were honoured that the judges were so impressed with our efforts that they travelled to the project on the day after the awards ceremony to re-present the certificate to all those who were unable to be at the ceremony.
Our award-winning garden
Our idea – Eaton Barn Green Woodworking Area
We are lucky to have seven amazing, skilled and talented volunteers who have mental health and addiction needs, and our idea comes from them. We encourage all our volunteers to take an active part in the garden, from supporting our participants to garden maintenance, creating garden structures such as decking and pergolas and even helping out with beekeeping! Our volunteers take pride in their achievements; many of them have been marginalised through their poor mental health and for most our garden is a chance to care for both the environment and for our participants with learning disabilities, resulting in improved mental health and self-esteem.
‘I never thought I would ever be able to help other people or be a part of something so amazing’ [‘Dan’ - volunteer]
Our beekeeping volunteers supporting staff member Sarah with the hive
We invite volunteers to our regular meetings where we discuss new developments in the garden and our volunteers have generously offered to share the skills they have learnt in green woodworking. They would like to allocate a part of the garden for green woodworking where they can create a space to make, and show others how to make, craft items that we can sell in our shop. They will undertake all the work themselves, involving our participants with learning disabilities in the process, building a pole lathe, shave horse and lumber horse under a natural canvas shelter. When the area is finished we will be able to offer space at the project for people to come and learn green woodworking and willow craft, including pupils at the local special school, older people and people with mental health needs as well as our existing group of people with learning disabilities. We are asking for a donation towards materials and tools to create this area and to build a composting toilet so that we can increase useage of the site whilst maintaining our very high environmental standards. All the work will be done by our volunteer team supported by our staff and our participants with learning disabilities.