I applied to become a Trustee at the garden because I love the ethos, love gardening and have had many encounters with mental health in both my personal and professional life. I was appointed Chairman in September 2017 and before this I was the company secretary of the Board of Trustees.
I have done lots of different things during my time as a trustee and it has changed quite a lot in the time I have been involved. Over the last year, I have liaised with our landlords to secure a new 7 year lease, helped to write bids for new grants (e.g. Reaching Communities and the Loneliness grant), developed a fundraising strategy and plan to help ensure we are financially sustainable.
I have also tried to extend our links with other organisations in the town to raise the profile of the Abbey Physic Garden. I try to help out at all the festivals when The Garden attracts large numbers of visitors, making cakes, washing up and serving teas and coffees. I draft our annual reports, with input from staff and the other trustees and submit the formal returns we need to make to Companies House and the Charity Commission.
Trustees are also members of the garden and for me one of the most enjoyable things about being involved in this amazing place is popping in and having a chat with people about their lives, thoughts, ideas and lending hand if I can. I love The Garden and its people - for me it feels like family.
This is my second year as a trustee at The Abbey Physic Garden and I love playing a small part in this amazing garden. My role as Secretary means, behind the scenes, I’m organising and minuting the trustee meetings and keeping on top of the action log for the group.
This last year I’ve been studying and just completed a degree which meant I spent far too much time sat at a computer than I would like. But the course was very useful and I’m hoping some of the things I learnt can help the garden in the years to come, particularly to support engagement on the loneliness project.
One of my favourite moment this year was the Christmas lunch; not only was the food and company delicious, but I really enjoyed having a good carol sing along with everyone. Even though it was winter and a little cold, the garden always warms the heart.
In my day job I work for South East Water who kindly let me take time out to volunteer as a trustee at the garden. At this difficult time for everyone its worth pointing you in the direction of the services they offer if you are having any problems either with your water bill, or you need some additional support if you have no water in an emergency. Please check this website southeastwater.co.uk/psr for more details or drop me a line.
Wishing everyone stays healthy during this difficult time, thank you to all the Abbey Physic Team who are doing a marvelous job of keeping our community connected. I look forward to seeing you all at the garden again as soon as we possibly can.
I live in Faversham, very close to the Abbey Physic Community Garden which allows me to get to The Garden easily to help out with the numerous activities we have here. I was appointed as a trustee in June 2018 and I love being able to assist with making The Garden a happy and fun place for all.
I have two children aged 8 & 12 years and run 2 part-time businesses, bookkeeping and data analytics, so I’m kept busy during the week by work and family life, but whenever I visit the garden, I leave feeling calmer and less frantic. As well as helping manage The Garden’s finances, I try and get involved in all aspects where needed in The Garden.
I moved to Faversham three years ago and was lucky to stumble across the Garden relatively quickly. From the moment I walked through the door I knew that this was somewhere I needed to spend as much time as possible! Since then I have been volunteering in the garden as much as I can around my day job as a human rights consultant. I like to get stuck in and get my hands dirty with whatever jobs need doing and also have a good chat with whoever is around.
I was delighted to become a trustee two years ago. The Garden to me represents so much of what we need more of in our society; compassion, kindness, connection, resilience, creativity and friendship. In this time when so many of us suffer with our mental health, feel isolated or lonely or disconnected from nature, community Gardens like ours are essential havens and I am honoured to have the opportunity to support it in any way I can.
In my role as Trustee, I have worked with the Board of Trustees to identify funding opportunities for the garden and apply for grants such as the Loneliness grant. I firmly believe in the connection between physical and mental health and have arranged two years of summer yoga classes in the garden. I am also our Monitoring and Learning lead and have supported Suzanne and the team to improve how we measure our impact on people's lives. I have represented the Garden at local events and on local Radio to promote our work and build relationships with like-minded organisations.
I became aware of the Abbey Physic Community Garden in 2014 when I moved into the centre of Faversham - this despite having lived within 4 miles of Faversham since 1982 and regarded it as my local town!
When I first stepped through its very low portal I was captivated by it. The greeting and welcome I received was simply marvelous. And on top of that what a garden, so beautifully maintained and nurtured by the people who use it, in what a location, tucked away between ancient walls in this ancient town of ours.
I became a Trustee in September 2016 and am also a Trustee of two other charities in Faversham.
But it is on the people of the Garden that I wish to reflect. The Garden is a jewel whose lustre stems from the brightness and spirit of its members and volunteers who look after it.
Staff, members and volunteers made me feel that there is something special in the air that first time I walked in. And that feeling persists; I hope not just for me but for all who go there. Whenever I’m asked about The Garden I get that feeling: one of peace, calmness, friendship and fellowship, almost spiritual, that it exudes, as well as tremendous pride in what it achieves.
One experience was particular telling for me. One of our members had been given a patch of ground to clear of weeds and then to plant with vegetables. I've never seen such thoroughness. Wonderful!
I came into the garden one day with my dogs (who too enjoy it every time we visit - on the lead!) and saw him with his hands deep in the soil. I know that being and working in the garden meant much to him – he was also a man with insight and great humanity. He looked up at me and said very quietly 'I think I've found my roots'. What a wonderful metaphor to show how the Garden and gardening helps people to restore their personal equilibrium and gain some peace and support in their lives. I was, and am still, profoundly moved every time I think of that moment - the power of gardening!
I try to visit the Garden once or twice a week just to talk to people, about what they're doing, how they're feeling, what they've achieved, what they'd like to achieve and so on. Every time I learn something and there is an abiding thread that coming to the Garden means so much to them. That is a tribute to the superb staff who are in charge and provide a whole variety of things for our members to do.
In short the Garden is a jewel. Not just a beautiful oasis in a stunning setting but a place where, in the inimitable words of our wonderful Manager, Suzanne Campbell, as she told viewers on Gardeners World: 'We grow people'.
And as a place with 'physic' in its title I truly see the 'spiritual medicine' that it doles out.
I am really looking forward to becoming involved in the garden and I would be honored to be a trustee. I have lived in Faversham for 17 years, but have always had links to the town, and I live with my partner and two teenagers. When I have visited the garden, I've really appreciated the sense that it's a friendly and safe haven. I appreciate the values behind the garden - the importance of companionship, community, conversations and listening - whilst being in nature - and of course, the big welcome I always get from Suzanne is great! I love gardening and find it very therapeutic for myself - I am far more successful at pruning than planting though - my planting is a bit impatient with an element of luck involved for the plants. I have a well-loved rusty push mower - to have an electric mower would be too much like hoovering.
To get through this current difficult Covid 19 situation, I've got plans for my garden and today, little fences are going in to protect the future vegetables from our one year old puppy, who will only attend the Physic Garden on his best behaviour. Regarding my experience of mental health, I have been involved in several close personal and professional experiences. I have worked in social care settings - with children in care and with asylum-seeking children and adults - and from this direct care role, I moved into lecturing in social care at both local Universities, mainly teaching Social Work students. My current role is Senior Lecturer in Practice Learning at Canterbury Christ Church University, supporting practitioners delivering placements for our Health and Social Care students. For the past few years, I've been working more with Nursing and Mental Health Nursing students.
I look forward to when we can meet over a cuppa.
Having recently moved to Kent I was thrilled to find an opportunity to contribute to Abbey Physic Community Garden as it combines my passion for nature, a holistic approach to mental health and community engagement.
As a professional fundraiser I have spent most of my career in the charity sector and have a background in winning new sources of income and developing partnerships with donors, other charities and businesses. I am looking forward to using these skills to support the Garden and its members. I am also a yoga therapist specialising in mental health work and looking forward to running some sessions in the garden when the restrictions lift and we can get back to meeting and supporting each other.