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Published 16 August 2021

Wellbeing and combatting loneliness is at the heart of any good Men’s Shed and what we are all about. At Church Crookham and Fleet Men’s Shed, we also like to concentrate on putting something back into the local community, a community that has supported us so well in our four-year journey from inception to where we are now in our own 154 sq metre workshop.

We were approached earlier this year by Hart Voluntary Action a local charity that supports the voluntary and community sector in Hart District where we are based.

One of the many projects that they are involved in is the formation of a new Community Garden.

The project aims to create a welcoming and inclusive community gardening space for residents to grow together, in more ways than one. Hart residents from diverse backgrounds can come together around the shared interest of gardening.

The Minding the Garden area will provide a space for structured social and therapeutic horticultural activity organised by Hart Voluntary Action (HVA). Where possible, HVA will also facilitate the use of the space by local community groups and voluntary organisations whilst also providing opportunities for local community members to get involved and support the project. 

Having listened to the details of the project, it was a ‘no-brainer’ and a privilege to be asked to be involved with a project with the same ethos as a Men’s Shed.

To date, we have made 10 metres of wooden staging that will be installed in one of the two poly-tunnels. The staging is designed to support seed trays and pots and also has sections to allow access by wheelchair users.

Staging units stacked ready for delivery

We have also designed and made two two-metre diameter round tables, again with facility for wheelchair users.

Last week we had a visit from Frimley CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group), a sponsor for the Community Garden, and representatives from HVA where we were able to present the ‘Minding the Garden’ signs and tables.

Shed Chairman Allan Walker presenting HVA CEO Caroline Winchurch with a Minding the Garden sign
Shed members and HVA representative Sarah looking at one of the tables.

HVA representative Amanda Slater said

“Hart Voluntary Action are so pleased to have the support of Church Crookham and Fleet Men’s Shed group, particularly with the new community garden project – Minding the Garden @Hart’s Green Garden. 

Minding the Garden as a new project in the local area and it has been invaluable to have the wisdom and experience of Shedders who have built up a membership project from scratch in 2019 to something important and sustainable for people in the community to be part of.  If Minding the Garden can provide anything like the opportunities that Men’s Shed provide for their members regarding health and wellbeing, we will consider that we are doing very well indeed.

To be able to work side-by-side is mutually beneficial for the members of both the Shed and the Garden, as well as the wider community.  We hope that when Minding the Garden opens in the autumn that we will be able to invite Men’s Shed members to come and visit and participate in the Garden, as well as collaborate in running some wood-based creative activity workshops in future.

We feel that, with Minding the Garden soon to be ready for business, Hart Voluntary Action’s bond with Men’s Shed will get stronger.  Of course, another thing our two projects have in common is enjoying a good cup of coffee and a piece of cake!”

The project is still under construction and will open later this year. We look forward to making a few more items for this great community project, as it’s so nice to be able to work on projects like this and put something back into the local community.

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