Wild Nettle Garden is Off to a Great Start in 2020!

This picture, taken by my niece, is of me in front of my plants on the allotment on a cold sunny day in January 2020. It is the picture that the Northern Echo used when it was writing about my project on the 8th of February, and you can see the online article here – https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/18220259.wanted-new-gardening-project-seeks-acre-land-trauma-care-farm/?fbclid=IwAR2CVHSb0Au4qVyZffvzRSsXwuItRWJqHuMHe5uOxEJPnYfjrk_hTHraTvk

We are thrilled to have this exposure! And when on Wed the 12th of February I went to talk about the project to the Women’s Institute in Summerhouse, Darlington, one of the ladies shared she had read it, and another had cut it out of the paper!

The other piece of great news is that we are in receipt of our second grant. The first one was given to me as part of the grant to attend The School for Social Entrepreneurs, and I am attending the course which covers the north east of the UK. I am so pleased to be on this course, and am learning a lot about how to be a good social entrepreneur, and networking with some people that have set up amazing projects, helping lots of different sectors of the community.

The second grant I have been awarded is from the company Unltd.org.uk and it will go a good way to helping with the set up costs of the project, when we find the land. I am very grateful to them for deciding to support the project, and also I think it will help others to offer financial assistance as and when we need it.

My focus, of course, is still very much on finding the land. I am also learning about applying for grants, and ingesting as much information as I can find online. I am sure once we find the land, that is when my biggest learning curve will come, but for now I am doing the business plan, meeting with my mentor, and looking forward to getting started.

I planted some seeds a week ago to get some perennials going as some of the seeds can take more than a year to germinate. I planted hawthorn, agapanthus,¬†alstroemeria, perennial sweet peas, rudbeckia, echinacea, alliums, mulberry, purple lilac, crab apples and walking tree collards. Within less than a week, the walking tree collards were up and at ’em- and now 2 weeks later, they are around 4 inches ¬†tall. They really are voracious and I was not expecting to have to repot them so quickly. However, they are beautiful, aren’t they?

The light’s not great today because we are in between Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, and it is cloudy out there and the rivers are high, but they look very happy and I am willing them to grow strong. On the allotment the only seeds I have planted are in 2 long thin trays and they are asparagus- 100- and artichokes- the packet. They have been in for about 3 weeks now so it will be interesting to see when the germinate.

And so far this year, we have been gifted so much- masses of pots, a bath (to plant mint in), about 25 gooseberry bushes, a blackcurrant, 2 fore berries (no idea what they are but will see how they grow!) 2 goji berry bushes, the sweet pea seeds I planted above, some beautiful lavender bushes, a plum tree, and masses of raspberry cuttings. My sister Sophie bought me 5 peony bulbs and some trays, and Wilko practically gave me my sunflower stash when it put its’ seeds on sale! I am sure there are other plants and seeds too but that is all I can remember. People are so generous!

So wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that your year has started off in a similar way? Really pleased with the way it is going so far, and looking forward to finding the land. Thank you for reading and let me know how your project or organisation is getting on so far this year.


Caroline Nettle



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