As we see the first small glimmers of spring, Letchworth’s Grow It Yourself Organic group invited members of the public to join them at their Spring Talk. The speaker this year was Chris Collins, the Head of Horticulture at Garden Organics. Chris regularly appears on television gardening shows and is busy preparing a display garden for the Chelsea Flower Show. It was great to see a packed hall for the talk, all we need now is warmer weather so we can get out into our gardens

Chris talked about his time as Westminster Abbey’s Head Gardener. He explained how he was determined to manage the place organically and shared tips for how he did this, including achieving a perfectly manicured lawn. His lively talk covered growing in small spaces, like balcony gardens, as well as how to get a plentiful harvest from an allotment. He also talked about growing in community spaces, showing how small areas of land can be turned into vibrant growing spaces for all to enjoy. Many of the skills Chris learned in his early career working for the parks department. He discussed how community organisations are being set up to run parks and gave ideas for future planting schemes for parks which may be reliant on volunteer gardeners.

Chris was the Blue Peter Gardener for ten years and works a lot with young people, in the previous week he had visited 31 schools. He is optimistic for our future as the children he spends time with show a real passion for gardening and the environment. He was full of ideas to get children gardening including pizza wheels, Dalek compost bins and edible baskets. Members of the audience were keen to get ideas to involve older children, Chris suggested that gardening could be linked to enterprise, with the children marketing and selling the food they grow.

Letchworth’s Grow It Yourself Organic Group meets each month in a member’s garden and ideas are shared. In addition they have a Grower’s Market in Ley’s Square until 1pm on the first Saturday of the month. Growers can bring their excess homegrown plants and food to swap and spare produce is sold to members of the public. To get involved you can meet Diane at Growers Market or contact the group by emailing ttletchworth@gmail.com.

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