A popular not-for-profit community market garden has a new project coordinator at its helm.
West Berkshire resident of 40 years, Yvonne Redgrave has taken over from Pam Goddard, who founded the Five A Day Market Garden initiative in 2009.
Located in the village of Englefield and supported by the Englefield Estate, the volunteer-led project has sustainability and community at its heart. A team of around 25 green fingered volunteers maintains the garden and runs team building events, community education projects, eco craft courses and garden tours.
Five A Day works closely with local schools and groups to educate people of all ages on growing produce, healthy eating and sustainability and provides a therapeutic environment for isolated or vulnerable West Berkshire residents.
For two days a week the garden, which is open for 11 months of the year, sells affordable, seasonal produce and flowers to provide healthy food for the community and subsidise its social enterprise courses.
Having been a volunteer for four years, newly retired Yvonne was keen to use her skills developed throughout a career in business management to work with the existing team and develop the project to further extend its social outreach.
With a recent Masters degree in social responsibility and sustainability, Yvonne brings invaluable management skills to the team and hopes to welcome more people to the garden including those struggling with social isolation or mental health issues.
“Gardening has significant therapeutic and social benefits,” Yvonne said. “I would like to see more people at the garden and for the garden to contribute to helping people of all ages.
“I hope to find more groups that could benefit from spending time at the garden.”
She continued: “During my Masters I became very interested in locally produced food, in terms of sustainability and I want to broaden the use of the food we produce to other groups in our community.
“I very much enjoy gardening but Pam was a one off because she had such a good knowledge and experience of all aspects of Five a Day. But thankfully we have many volunteers who are highly skilled and I will be able to use their expertise!”
The project has been nominated for several awards over the years and in March 2017, Pam, who has now moved away from the area, received an award from the High Sheriff of the Royal County of Berkshire in recognition of her dedicated service to the scheme and the part she played in enhancing the life of the community.
Based on a two-acre plot leased to the group by Englefield Estate, the initiative launched its Thyme Together project at the beginning of 2017, an informal, weekly gardening sessions for the over 60s to share in the joys of growing.
“We produce a range of food here but there is always scope to be doing more and we will be looking to see if we can grow food all year round and look at the types of food needed by the people coming to the garden,” added Yvonne. “We will also be looking for more outlets for our produce in the community in order that we can be more sustainable and provide healthy food.
“I am looking forward to re-using the skills I have developed throughout my working life into extending the garden’s impact in the community.”
Edward Crookes, Estates Director at Englefield Estate, said: “The Five A Day Market Garden is a wonderful initiative that provides so much for the local community and we very much enjoy supporting such an inspiring organisation.
“Englefield village, with the house and parkland providing a scenic backdrop, provides a wonderful location for this project and we wish Yvonne every success in her new role.”
For more information about how to get involved visit, www.fiveaday.org.uk