RTF’s Work in the Local Community

RTF’s Work in the Local Community

Company Formation

Roots to Fruit is a non profit making company limited by guarantee. Roots to Fruit Midlands Limited was registered with Companies House in March 2013.

Our Mission

The name roots to fruit demonstrates the organisations desire to get to the root of peoples problems through therapy and education so that they can develop blossom and reap the fruit/benefits of learning to garden and cultivate plants. The company has to tag lines

“Cultivating Great PEOPLE and Plants ” This summarises our overall mission.

The second tag line is ” where learning is growing” this summarises our education etconcentrzting on facilitating our learners to grow by teaching them how to grow plants.

Business Ethic

Roots to Fruit have 2 main business models; one being a social enterprise the other being a social farm. 

The Social Farm Ethic

Our intention is to provide alternative education facilities and accredited training for a range of different students with varying unique needs. We will strive to provide horticultural activities to a high standard to people from varying backgrounds with a variety of disabilities in order for them to find purposeful activities that will improve health and well being and economic prospects. Finding ways of linking people who are marginalised by social exclusion to link them with Horticulture to create the following benefits:

▪︎Better mental well being by connecting with gardening activities/the horticultural industry

▪︎Better career/social mobility prospects through developing skills and knowledge in horticulture

▪︎Better physical health by increasing exercise through gardening activities also food growing and learning to eat a healthier diet that contains more plants.

The Social Enterprise

The social enterprise part is about trainees and volunteers gaining accredited industry recognised qualifications while working on a real plant nursery producing plants, crops and gardening products these will be sold to produce revenue that can help develop the facilities and prolong the services that Roots to Fruit will be offering to the community. All profits generated will be invested back into the enterprise. We align our learning and social outcomes with national funding priorities for schools, local government, national curriculum and employability goals in order to create a sustainable financial future. We also provide services and products to the general public, who are mindful of wanting to spend some of their expendable income in a socially responsible way this is known as a “Robin Hood Effect ” income stream.

Roots to Fruit Base of Operations

The roots to Fruit traing centre and base of operations is located in Streetly which is in walsall, (close to north Birmingham) in the West Midlands. We have been using Oakdene Nurseries under licence agreement for the past 9 years and will be able to continue with this agreement for the next 20 years.

The land that Oakdene Nurseries is on was purchased by Oscar Britzius in 1925 for £1 per acre. This was still considered cheap back then because it was oak woodland not agricultural land. He established it as a small holding; rearing mostly pigs and chickens and selling eggs and meat in the local area.  The Nursery is still set within the Oak woodland and some of the trees are original specimens already established at the time when the land was purchased. 

Oakdene Nurseries first opened its gates to sell bedding and vegetable plants to local businesses and shops within the area in 1945. The war was coming to a close, men were coming back from fighting  and people wanted a change from ‘dig for victory’ colourless borders. They wanted vibrant colour and so annual flowering plants saw a boom period. Many local shops drove up to Oakdene Nurseries to purchase trays of bedding plants to sell at their hardware stores, butchers, green grocers and general stores.  Market store holders came to take advantage of the wholesale prices; it was a time when the little shop keeper operated in a busy high street before the days of super markets, DIY stores, the internet and retail parks. Philip Ensell started the nursery, Paul Ensell (Philp’s son) still runs the Nursery and now opens its gates to the general public as well as local businesses.

We have been using Oakdene Nurseries under licence agreement for the past 7 years and will be able to continue with this agreement for the next 20 years.

How Roots to Fruit Engages with the Local Community

We believe that our organisation contributes to all three of your funding priorities.

“bring people together and build strong relationships in and across communities”

We are involved in a wide cross section of the community (please see ‘Community Involvement’) We currently work with mental health departments, sheltered housing trusts, post-traumatic stress support, special needs schools, local schools supported by volunteers who come from a wide range of age groups and back grounds. This patchwork of people is a massive part of the success of Roots to Fruit and what we are most proud of. With careful attention to individual needs and safeguarding guidelines we have created an ethos where all of these different people work together and support each other with horticulture at the heart of what we do.

In 2019 we created a show garden for the Birmingham Borders competition at ‘Gardeners World Live’. This garden was created by all of the children we work with together with other service users that attend our adult training days. We used ideas from everyone amalgamated into the design. Plants were grown from seed and cultivated in schools and on site at the nursery. The final build was carried out by volunteers and adult service users. The hard work payed off when we were awarded a platinum award and best in show. The idea of the garden was to showcase the way we link all areas of the curriculum with horticulture and the natural world and was featured on Gardeners World on BBC1 on 14th June. We obtained free tickets for all our service users and school children so they could attend the event and see the fruits of their labour. A once in a lifetime experience for many of the children we work with.

In 2018 and 2019 we also entered the schools we work with into the ‘Wheelbarrow Competition’ winning first prize in both years. The idea of this competition is for children to grow from seed and decorate wheel barrows that reflect a meal or a country. In 2020 we are setting the competition criteria for this competition.

We also ran a series of activities for children to engage with horticulture which was so successful that we have been employed to run all of the children’s activities in the 2020 show. In 2019 Jon led a session on soil and compost and in 2020 has been asked to lead a session with Adam on engaging children with horticulture. We are also creating a show garden with schools from across the Oasis Academy Trust reflecting their core values. The children will not only design the garden and grow the plants but this time the children will be on site to build the garden at the NEC.

The Skinny Jeans Gardener interviewed us for his podcast where you can hear more about the work we do:

The impact of working on a project ffor Gardener’s World Live on our service users was immeasurable. Preparations occurred over months with every student, school child and volunteer growing, tending or building something that resulted us in gaining our ‘best in show’ golden spade. Through torrential rain our service users and volunteers tirelessly worked to put together the final garden and then were on hand when the show opened to talk to visitors about the garden and to lead childrens’ activities. The pride that everyone had in what we achieved was quite humbling and testimony to the family feel that we have nurtured and sustained at Roots to Fruit with everyone engaging with the business and its achievements.

“improve the places and spaces that matter to communities”

Our students have also been involved with planting and maintaining sites around the area. Something that is a highlight for many as they can put their skills to use in a professional setting.

In 2016 Roots to Fruit was recognised by the RHS for its work within the community helping those living in an urban area develop and enjoy its green spaces. They have awarded us a prestigious horticultural medal through Britain in Bloom. This was awarded through our partnership work with Walsall Housing Group Willenhall community garden to create two social inclusion outdoor spaces for their residents including elderly tenants in high rise flats. The tenants received bespoke training from Roots to Fruit on how to design build, develop and maintain a community garden and vegetable plot. 

“enable more people to fulfil their potential by working to address issues at the earliest stage”

The therapeutic benefits of horticulture are widely known and researched. Here at Roots to Fruit we use gardening and horticulture to enable people to improve their self-esteem and build confidence as well as learn basic life skills. There is the opportunity to gain qualifications (optional), to move into employment and to maintain or improve their quality of life. All of this gained within an open working plant nursery. We design and deliver horticultural activities that will help to build confidence and improve health through gentle outdoor exercise. The projects aim to improve mind, body and soul through planning, carrying out and completing creative gardening projects as well as growing plants and vegetables from seed to harvest. Service users also have the opportunity to study an industry recognised qualification that can help them to enter a career within horticulture (mention skills deficit). All the activities are tailored to individual needs for example through  providing a quieter area for our service users with PTSD and Jon, our adult learning director, going over the whole in site in a wheelchair to identify potential difficulties. This has resulted in an incredibly wide cross section of service users with a wide range of needs.

For those starting in the industry E3 and Level 1(L1) practical skills courses are a great introduction to a wide variety of subjects and skills within the industry. These courses are mostly practical based where trainees carry out duties and complete projects in a working plant nursery, kitchen gardens or ornamental gardens. The Level 2 qualification is the next step and will give trainees the opportunity to look at various subjects within horticulture in a more in-depth way. This course is designed to get trainees ready for working in the horticultural industry. Trainees either work at Oakdene Nurseries or out in the local community maintaining private gardens and public spaces giving trainees the confidence skills and knowledge to start either their own gardening business, work for a gardening company or maintain their own garden.

Testimonials:

“The things I’ve learnt on this course are how to produce, de-weed and cultivate a lawn, garden or bed. I have learnt how to grow my own vegetables and flowers from seedlings. I have also gained a mass of knowledge of different plants and shrub names and how to care for them and keep them healthy. Also I have gained lots of knowledge of outdoors and in greenhouses, like how to grow tomatoes and then stick them outside in a raised bed to harden off

It’s also a very therapeutic thing to do to relieve your stress and anger, and learn to be gentle when pricking plants from seedlings into bigger pots. Also we have gained a sales pitch towards members of staff, to become a very helpful person and help people pick what shrubs or plants to have in a garden. We have sold our own products to help our group gain money to help fund ourselves for future projects. Also have learnt to be polite towards staff and colleagues and customers to gain ourselves a sale. My tutor also helped me wok out a business plan to help me set up a charity or business of my own, and I would like to thank all staff for the help and respect I have learnt and gained from this course to make me a better person in the future.”

“I have enjoyed the courses ‘cos I have learnt new things and been out to start a new project. I have learnt about all different plants and how to look after them. I also have pricked out plants, potting up and getting the ground ready for planting. When I first came there I did not know what was what, but now I know stuff about the plants and how to make an area looking nice and beautiful. I now like doing the gardening course and would like to get a job out of this in the future.

I found the course very interesting ‘cos you can find out about stuff that you did not know when you came on the course. I think the staff that sorted the course out is a lovely bunch and when I’m planting it makes me relax and calm.”

“Basically my attitude changed towards gardening. I tend to feel relaxed when I’m working in the garden. I’ve found out that you can almost make money out of everything.”

“On starting the course, I felt very nervous and reluctant to come, but was instantly made to feel very welcome. I have some knowledge of basic gardening which, I have learned from books and other people with similar interests.

But now nearing the end of my course I look back at what I have learned. I came specifically to learn about and pursue and interest in garden design. Jon then encouraged me to design my own garden, and I feel I have achieved a lovely garden with so much help about compost, cuttings, planting, layout and general design. Jon helped me to choose the right materials, and has advised me with hard landscaping ideas.

After suffering from long-term major depression the course encouraged me to interact with people, build my self-confidence and self-esteem which has now improved my life in many ways. The people on the course have helped me so much.”

“After choosing to leave my last volunteer work placement I was optimistic enough to think that given all of the possibilities out there and with my broad range of interests I would have no problem finding another placement, especially when coupled together with a number of years’ experience. In reality I was very wrong. For three years I relentlessly tried to find a new placement but for most and for whatever reason my disability proved too much of an issue. Over a three year period of being turned down or worse, completely ignored for application after application I began to take this very personally.

The constant rejection, feeling of isolation and the sheer frustration of wanting to get involved but not being able to, often for no other reason than the ignorance and preconceptions of people who have never met me, started to have a detrimental effect on my mental well-being. I was eventually diagnosed with depression and anxiety and sent for CBT and counselling. For one reason or another none of this seemed to work.

Then through a chance meeting I came across Roots to Fruit at Oakdene Nurseries. By teaching me horticulture it got me out of the house and back into the fresh air. I began to meet new, likeminded people and learn a new skill. I also realised the satisfaction of caring for and watching a plant grow. Soon I started to feel much better in myself and have a much brighter outlook for the future.”

Direct link to video testimonials by just RTF students https://wp.me/P49fHh-lJ Password: N0t4profit

Direct link to video testimonials by just RTF parent of student  https://wp.me/P49fHh-lN   Password: N0t4profit

Direct link to video testimonials by just organisations who engage with RTF  https://wp.me/P49fHh-lP   Password: N0t4profit

“In 2019 patients from Forward House an NHS rehabilitation unit for individuals with severe and enduring mental health issues attended group session at Roots to Fruits. Both patients and staff have received immense benefits on working on the allotment including social interaction, increased levels of exercise and goal orientation. Motivation can be a challenge for our patients but this group was the most weekly attended and there were positive outcomes across the board. 

The team at Roots to Fruits offered a tailored service to meet all the needs of the individuals. They embraced each person’s uniqueness and created a safe environment for them without judgement. From the first meeting with Roots to Fruits they were keen to offer an experience to our patients and were not deterred by the challenges that our patients often experience when working in the community. 

The patients and nursing staff at Forward House continue to express respect and appreciation to all members of the team they met at Roots to Fruits. Everyone was cheerful and always took the time to communicate with each patient on a 1-1 basis. One lady described the allotment as a peaceful haven to be herself and for that couple of hours a week she was able to forget she was on medication and had a mental health diagnosis.

Each group session that was run by the wonderful Claire who was energetic and goal orientated with a high level of creativity to the needs of the client group. 

The ethos of Roots to Fruits shines through in their devotion to the wider community. They are willing to go beyond what is required and support everyone.  

In a changing environment which is becoming harder for some individuals to navigate having an organisation like Roots to Fruits to offer people tranquillity, love, education and support is an ever increasing need. Long may they continue.

Thank you so very much, Claire and the team you really did make a difference to our patients. The sense of worth and value the patients gained when we attended Gardeners World was priceless and will stay with them forever.”

BIRMINGHAM AND SOLIHULL MENTAL HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST

We work with a range of schools across the West Midlands delivering curriculum based activities linked to the natural world. Schools with limited green space visit us at our base at Oakdene Nursery in Streetly whilst other schools use us to develop their site by filling every available spot with areas suitable for horticultural activities. All our schools have used what we have grown together to supplement vegetables and herbs for the school kitchen and to sell at school events to generate money for the school. All of the schools we work with are urban sites predominately in quite poor areas of the midlands. Often head teachers use a portion of their pupil premium budget to fund us with several schools adding extra days to our provision as the benefits have been so high. Ofsted have been very impressed with what they have seen and the way that we imbed Literacy and Numeracy into our planning as well as Science. 

“Boys have made good progress with reading as a result of targeted, innovative interventions. The school has used the ‘Roots to Fruit’ project successfully in order to engage pupils, especially boys, in using reading in a creative way. During the inspection, I observed a group of pupils who were busily engaged in cultivating wheat from seeds. Eventually, this will be used to create dough for the pizzas, which they will then bake in the outdoor pizza oven. During this time, pupils were also learning about the water cycle and reading instructions presented to them.” (Ofsted Hobmoor, 2019)

“The school’s outdoor learning environment add to the richness of the curriculum” (Ofsted Abbey Catholic Primary School, 2018)

A map of the schools we currently work with:

Testimonials:

‘I thought I would let you know how delighted we are as a school to be involved with Roots to Fruit. We are in our third year of Roots to Fruit delivering Forest School provision for the pupils at Penn Hall School who have a range of physical and learning difficulties.

From day one every connection with this company has been fantastic. Adam, Jon and Claire are all delightful people always willing to go the extra mile for our special children. They have provided outstanding and unique curricular provision at our school. But above this, the effort they make to differentiate and make their activities fully accessible to all our pupils has been wonderful. Our pupils look forward to their sessions every week going out in all weathers to enjoy their horticultural experience.

It is rare these days to find such high quality, caring people, passionate about what they do and so keen to fully engage all children inclusively in a range of fun and fantastic activities. We could not be more pleased with our connection with Roots to Fruit and would recommend them without reservation to any school. They have really made a difference to the deserving pupils at Penn Hall School’

Deputy Head-Penn Hall School

‘Roots to Fruit’s horticultural programme, which runs across all phases of the academy, has been instrumental in developing our pupils into confident, collaborative and inquisitive individuals.  The work that Adam, Claire and Jon do with our children is second to none and is truly inspirational to watch.

Our children have the opportunity to not only understand the learning behind natural science and horticulture, including elements of social history, but also have the chance to develop a new set of skills that are transferable   into their academic and personal lives.

The ‘RTF’ team provide an outstanding learning experience for all involved, which not only educates our young people but also provides a level of nurture and pastoral care that many of our children need and thrive upon. This team is quite simply changing children’s lives for the better’

Deputy Principle-Oasis Academy Hobmoor

‘We have had the privilege of working with Roots to Fruit for the last two academic years. Being an inner-city school we were desperate to develop the limited green spaces on site. Working with Adam from Roots to Fruit we developed our polytunnel and 60 Year 4 children worked tirelessly to cultivate herbs and plants, these were then sold on our playground to our parents. It was a huge success.

Roots to Fruit have been working over the past two years to identify and develop areas in our school that can be utilized for horticultural activity.

We are delighted with the work that has taken place and children in all year bands have benefited from working with Roots to Fruit’

Deputy Head-Abbey Catholic Primary School

Roots to Fruit student:

“It is really fun because we get to build, we get to plant, we get to go to the fire, cook marshmallows! I can plant and I know different sorts of plants. You know when everyone is talking to me and tries to boss me about, when I’m gardening, it all goes to one side, it’s turned off and on. It makes my brain feel fresh, it puts all the bossing about in the trash and whatever is in my way. I find him (Adam) really amusing and fun. My brain loves him.  I think gardening helps me and Adam helps me.  I like going with M and L.  Whatever I’m stuck on, my friends help me.  We did real world maths with the tree. It’s like a fresh start when I come back to the classroom, you know when a car window is dirty, it feels like gardening makes it clean. I really enjoy gardening. “

Class teacher:

“I am so pleased that J is part of the Roots to Fruit programme.  He absolutely loves spending time in the outdoors and has developed a great understanding of many practical skills that he would not normally be exposed to in a traditional classroom setting. His self- confidence has been greatly enhanced by being a part of the gardening team and this helps him in the classroom where he sometimes finds the work quite challenging.  J loves working with Adam and responds really well to his jolly demeanour, kindness and expertise.  He is able to articulate, in his own words, the vast amount of knowledge that he has acquired and is always excited to tell me what he has been doing.  He gains a real sense of achievement and purpose through the Roots to Fruit programme, which is great for his self-esteem.  I think the best part about it is that he can feel proud of his work and that he feel he is making a difference to our school by being an important part of such a fantastic program.”

SENCO:

J is  currently a Year 5 Pupil in our Academy. J has diagnoses of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Global Developmental Delay with moderate learning disability, Absence Seizures, Anxiety, Autonomic instability and sensory processing difficulty, Developmental Co-ordination Disorder and Joint Hypermobility.  J has attended the Academy since Reception Class and had anxiety issues around separating from his mum and attending school in Reception and year 1. 

He has been working with Adam from Roots to Fruit and attending ‘Gardening Club’ since Year 2. The impact that Adam has had on the this little boy has been life changing. 

J had very low self- esteem and often focussed on what he couldn’t do and didn’t believe he was good at anything. To say J loves going to ‘Gardening Club’ is an understatement. It has opened up a whole new world for him.  Over the years, he has learned to grow  vegetables, which were then used in our school kitchen , use a pizza oven, participated in archery using bows and arrows he made from willow, made various items from plants and natural materials to be displayed around school or sold at school fayres. He was part of the group who attended ‘Gardeners’ World’ at the NEC and won an award. J gardens and grows things at home and gives his family advice. When asked what he is good at, he now says gardening  and wants to come to school, especially on those days he has Gardening Club. Being a gardener has raised J’s self-esteem

 J’s mum struggled with his diagnoses and she too found it difficult to be positive, focusing on what J couldn’t do. She has seen a significant difference in J and feels that he may actually be able to work as a gardener as an adult. Adam has developed a fantastic relationship with J and his mum. He is a significant adult in J’s life and the Roots to Fruit programme is an important part of this child’s life.

Mum:

“After being a member of roots to fruits for 4 years, my son’s weekly gardening morning has been the most enjoyable time he has spent at school.   As a child with additional needs the time spent with leader Adam has been a life experience to the unknown world outside.   It’s been so educational and so much fun. Every week he has had opportunities to learn and talk about practical horticulture, environment, art and science, the life cycle and the changing seasons.

How to be safe using gardening /work tools, to making green houses out of bottles, fires with flint,  making  of bow and arrows statues, reindeers and icicle catchers,  cooking with  fruit and veg grown. Being able to  visualize , experience and taste.  He has been involved in the schools project the making of the sensory garden. The Gardeners World Wheel barrow competition which they Won. This has given him a sense of pride and achievement .  I am so happy and proud that my son has been part of this brilliant successful team . He now has a hobby and is so interested in gardening which would not have been possible without the input and dedication of Roots to Fruit.”  

We run an over-subscribed pre-school ‘Wellies and Worms’ that is attended by a mixture of mums, dads and grandparents from the local community. Children have the opportunity to engage with the outdoors and participate with activities that develop their understanding of the natural world.

Testimonials:

Grandma:

“Wellies and Worms’ offers a wonderful opportunity for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors and learn about the joys of our natural world. The classes are designed for pre-school children, but from experience I can safely say the adults have as much fun as the children.

I have been lucky enough to be able to bring my grandchildren along to Wellies and Worms and without doubt come rain or shine they have both thoroughly enjoy themselves. In fact the children don’t notice the weather they are too engrossed in enjoying themselves for example playing in the sand-pit or mud kitchen, in the water play area, riding in the toy cars or playing ball – often the wetter or muddier the better!! There’s also a covered area for a quieter moment to have a drink and snack and read a book .

The children learn many things including all about the changing seasons, the flowers and plants and the ‘wild life’ hiding in our gardens. The children always make or plant something to take home and these are always place in pride of place!

I believe that Wellies and Worms is an invaluable resource and both children have grown in confidence and learned so much by spending time exploring the natural world at Wellies and Worms.”

Dad:

 “Me and my son really enjoy Wellies and Worms. It’s great fun getting your hands dirty and learning about nature in a safe and fun environment. There are great activities, a huge sandpit, a mud kitchen, a real pond, loads of toys and lots of space to explore and have games. Every week we do a craft activity and bring home new plants for the garden.”

Mum:

 “I took my son to Wellies and Worms in his pre-school year. We both loved coming together to the quiet of the orchard and having a place to play and learn outside, whatever the weather. There were fantastic activities every week delivered in an educational way, with lots of fun and humour. The group is unique and a special way to introduce children to the joy of nature and learn about growing plants. Long after he had started school, I was still asked, ‘when are we going back to Wellies and Worms?’”

Dad:

 “We love ‘Wellies and Worms’. It’s great being outside with the boys and there is loads of stuff for them to do and play with. The activities are great and there is always something to bring home at the end of the session-something they have planted or made. Highly recommended!”

Wellies and Worms attracts both mums and dads and grandparents and it is lovely top see the different generations interacting with each other. The emphasis is very much on the carers engaging with the activities as well as the children and we often hear the grown ups saying how much they have learnt and how they have replicated activities in their own gardens. 

Currently we have a barrier to inviting more children to sessions because of the toilet capacity. If our bid was successful we would use some of the money to build another toilet so that we could open up more places. We also don’t have anywhere big enough to house everyone in cold weather. The ‘Wellies and Worms’ children are pretty tough but we do have to think seasonally because it just gets too cold. To have a large classroom to decamp to when their noses go blue with the cold would have a massive impact on our capacity to lengthen the term whatever the weather.

Supporting Local Community Groups

We have been involved with other community groups supporting them to develop their team and sites through courses or man power depending on their need.

A map of the community groups we currently support:

Testimonials:

“Roots to Fruits have made a major impact on the development of our horticultural plans at the Little Aston Recreation Ground. Taking a lead role in a multi-disciplinary team, they have helped us to design a new sensory garden based upon a consultation exercise with many of our visitors. We will be seeking grant funding for this project and Roots to Fruits will then be working closely with our own volunteer gardeners and the others involved to ensure the project is a success.”

Chairman-Little Aston Recreation Ground Association


“ Roots to Fruit have been a really valuable resource for the Welsh House Farm Big Local and it’s volunteer gardening group the Green Grafters. We approached them via a recommendation from another community garden in Walsall and worked with Jon over a number of workshops on our developing allotment plot and in the early stages of setting up a new site for a community garden. His advice and experience had been so beneficial to the Welsh House Farm area, being able to learn from him and avoid some of the pitfalls of being first time community gardeners. We have been welcomed to their training and nursery site where we learnt a lot from the staff and volunteers, and we really inspired by the enthusiasm and facilities there.”

Community Green Connector-Welsh House Farm

“I had extremely positive experiences of working with Roots to Fruit in my capacity of Parks Development Officer.  The organisation played a valuable role in several of our park’s projects. Not only does the organisation have the skills and knowledge to manage landscape projects, but their horticultural skills and knowledge, plant and locally produced compost makes their organisation highly sought after from a sustainability aspect.

A significant aspect of their work, aside from the skills and knowledge detailed above, is the social value that their organisation provides.  Their educational role, support and development of adults with learning difficulties, and the positive opportunities they provide for their community provides even greater value to any project.

The enthusiasm that the staff bring to education projects is infectious, and all of the brownies at our park have had fantastic experiences in earning gardening badges.

The work that Roots to Fruit undertook at Willenhall Memorial Park, resulted in fantastic social environmental and economic outcomes, with students being asked to return on several occasions to take part in community activities, and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their work in a public park with almost 5000,000 visitors each year.”

Parks Development Officer-Walsall Council

“Caldmore Community Garden commissioned Roots to Fruit to run a series of gardening workshops at our Garden. They were a great opportunity for our volunteers and community members to gain skills and to learn through practice as they were tailored specially for our space and really helped us get on with the job. As such they helped us build capacity and contributed to some real transformations taking place such as the creation of our kitchen garden and a butterfly garden. They were also great fun and everyone really enjoyed them, so we are hoping we will be able to work with Jon and the team again in the future”. Community Development Worker at Caldmore Community Garden

A barrier that we have to come to this area of our business is transportation. Currently our van does not have the capacity to fit everyone in so we are reliant on the good will of our volunteers to drive people around. If our bid was successful being able to use some of the money to buy a vehicle more suitable for purpose would have a massive impact on our ability to work in the local community

We run a series of recreational courses at our base at Oakdene Nurseries in order to engage the wider community with horticulture and nature related activities. A wide range of ages have attended our hanging basket, Christmas wreath making, winter pots, mead making and floristry courses. 

Feedback from some of our recreational courses:

“Most informative and factual- the lecture on compost must useful. The lecturers took time to 

“Have enjoyed all 3 sessions, planting, showing, compost, cuttings, pruning, dividing and pricking out. Lots of hands on which is great fun”

 “Really enjoyed the whole event. Very good information. Would come back again.”

 “Very informative – catering for all levels of gardening knowledge in a clear, non-threatening and entertaining delivery. Good blend of practical and theoretical activities. A thoroughly enjoyable event.”

 “Once again full of information presented in a friendly and non-technical way.”

 “Today has been brilliant and very useful for me. Thank you for the time you have given us. Can’t wait to get back to put into practice what I have learned today.”

 “Welcoming, friendly, well delivered and enjoyable. Will look forward to more sessions in the future for personal development.”

Our Volunteers

The heart of Roots to Fruit is our amazing team of volunteers. In all weathers their positivity, passion and dedication is unrivalled. They are wholly invested in our ethos and make an immeasurable contribution to our work. The backgrounds of our volunteers are as varied as our service users. We have an ex-barrister, a refugee, an ex-convict, an ex-teacher, stay-at-home mums, an ex-heroin addict-the list goes on and on. Most of our volunteers choose to work through a qualification with us but they would all say that that is a secondary outcome from them. What they love is working with the service users to help them blossom. 

Direct link to video testimonials by just RTF volunteers https://wp.me/P49fHh-lL    Password: N0t4profit

We meet regularly with our volunteers to ensure we are supporting them in the best way we can and to gain their input into the development of our services. We value their input and guidance particularly with regard to the trainees they work with. We also arrange social occasions for us all to come together and for us to thank everyone for their hard work and commitment.

Allotments

We offer allotments on our beautiful orchard based at Oakdene Nurseries. We carried out market research to establish barriers people had to taking on an allotment and took that into consideration when deciding on size, support and access to tools. There are a wide range of people from the local community who tend allotments from individuals to schools to housing groups. Allotments are prepared as part of course modules and we continue to support our allotmenteers with plant knowledge and problem solving.

Roots to Fruit 2020