Week 9 on the VPA Programme

It has been a very busy few weeks on the VPA Programme which has not left our volunteers much time to update this blog so here is a long overdue update!

Jenni Byrne, VPA, on developments at Q Gardens Community Food growing project!

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On site we have had a bountiful harvest of the crops planted by the previous team. The plants harvested include: Pumpkins, potatoes, onions, fennel, sunflowers, celery, beet leaf, sweet peas, runner beans, nasturtiums and a variety of salad leaves and herbs.

During September and October we planted up our winter veg including: Pak choi, spinach, radish and spring onions.

Preparing for winter.

Although we can all enjoy the beautiful golden, rich colours and sharp, bright days of autumn, it does signify winter is fast approaching. The garden has transformed from a flurry of vibrant colours and shapes, all fighting for room in the planting beds, to a sea of wilting green plant matter, ready to be dug out for new life to grow next year.

Everyone involved with the site has been busy making sure the garden is prepared to face the months to come. Lots and lots and lots of seeds from the wildflower area have been collected. These seeds will be dried and bagged up, creating Q gardens very own wildflower seed mix. Once we were happy with the amount of seed collected, some of the team took on the mammoth task of clearing the wildflower patch in order to preserve the degraded quality of the soil (wildflowers don’t like the soil to be too high in nutrients unlike most crop plants).    

Members of the team have been tending to the plant beds, including; weeding, turning soil over, sowing green manure and covering beds over to protect them and hopefully minimise weeds. The two beds closest to the doctors surgery have been turned into ‘fruit corner’, with a variety of different berry fruit bushes being planted, as well as, a fantastically sculpted strawberry bed being created.

Other jobs have included the mucky job of reorganising and covering the growing compost heap. We are hoping that by next year we should have the start of some good, rich, own-grown compost to use to help the plants grow. Some people have been getting their construction heads on, creating wooden borders, made out of old pallets, for the potato beds. Others created a portable leaf cage which will be useful for years to come when the big old sycamore, located almost in the middle of the site, tree drops it’s leaves.   

VPA Placements starting in June 2013

Our summer 2013 placements will start on Monday 3rd June and run until Friday 23rd August. We’re delighted with the range and variety of graduate placements we can offer – some real hands-on projects that will make a difference to your CV and to the communities of Oldham and Rochdale! Interest has already been high but we have 20 places on offer so if you’re interested or want to apply do get in touch (my details are at the bottom of this page).

VPA placements

Practical Countryside Skills Assistant Team Leader – You will assist volunteers participating on the Practical Countryside Skills Course with practical tasks and work towards their portfolio so they can complete their Level 1 certificate. Duties will include supporting the project leader in the delivery of sessions throughout the course, mentoring the volunteers participating on the course, assisting in participants work on various conservation topics. A large part of the course in maintaining and improving natural spaces so you will help in the supervision of practical projects and ensure they are completed satisfactorily and safely.

Education & Communities Project Assistant (Q Gardens) – This new project will establish a community food growing site in Kirkholt, Rochdale in partnership with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. We are looking for a small team of volunteers to plan and organise a series of community engagement events and workshops all focused around food growing, plot maintenance and healthy eating. You will also assist with setting up similar gardens in other areas of Rochdale and assist tenants to create site management plans.

Community Project Assistant (Reservoir Trails) – You will lead on a project to organise a number of guided walks for the local community. This placement will provide you with experience of community engagement, project planning, organising and delivering events. You will be required to design, promote and deliver a variety of walks and events to inspire the local community to enjoy local green spaces.

Education & Communities Project Assistant (Community Action Team) – You will help to lead a team of adults working on inspiring outdoor growing projects in Oldham. As part of your placement you will gain some experience in community engagement, volunteer coordination, recruiting volunteers and inducting them. The main focus is on leading volunteers in a variety of workshops alongside the team leader so you will gain experience on a community run growing project.

Prince’s Trust Assistant Team Leader – The Prince’s Trust Team programme is a 13 week personal development programme for 16 – 25 year olds. You will work with the Prince’s Trust Manager and Senior Team leader to gain a wide range of experience of youth work. The role will involve attending a week long residential with a Prince’s Trust Team, assisting the young people to organise fundraisers and community projects, and providing a range of learning support and tuition.

Employability Classroom Assistant – Are you looking for a career in adult learning, social support, employment or keen to help people? As part of our Work Programme contract in Middleton you will work alongside course leaders to deliver the Employability Skills qualification to unemployed adults. You will gain experience of teaching adults, developing interactive resources and support the smooth running of this course.

Land & Design Project Assistant (Bid Writing and Fundraising) – You will assist the Contracts Manager with bid writing to secure funds for the improvement of Groundwork managed nature sites in Oldham and Rochdale. This will involve helping with the creation of habitat management plans and to support the implementation of practical projects. You will gain experience of bid writing, funding, conservation management as well as physical improvement projects on the ground.

Business Services Project Assistant – You will assist the Business Services team with the delivery of energy efficiency programmes to homes and businesses. You will gain experience of delivering energy advice to householders on how to save money on their energy bills. You will also support small to medium sized businesses with the implementation of environmental management systems.

Marketing & Communications Project Assistant – You will support the marketing and communications of Groundwork projects, primarily through video capture and production. As part of this placement you will also gain experience of social media and help to write and coordinate blog posts aimed at different audiences. Prior training and/or experience in video production or media is required for this placement.

Oldham Evening Chronicle Project Assistant (All That Magazine) – You will co-ordinate and manage the development of a magazine written for and by young people from Oldham. Working with young people through focus groups, you will discover what they want to read about and deliver workshops to encourage them to write up articles for the forthcoming edition. There will be opportunities for you write articles for both All That magazine and the Oldham Evening Chronicle, gaining valuable experience of print media, work with young people, schools and colleges, and social media.

Oldham Council Project Assistant – You will be placed in areas of Oldham Council to support the Community Development workers in three different areas of Oldham. You will work alongside the Community Development staff to deliver a number of projects including work around anti-social behaviour, promoting adult learning and community engagement. The Council placements may lead to further voluntary shadowing within the Council dependent on the experience you gain.

Bulky Bob’s Project Assistant – Bulky Bob’s are an award-winning business who aim to re-use, recycle and refurbish at least 25% by tonnage of the items they collect. Thousands of items of furniture picked up by Bulky Bob’s crews are made available to families on low income. You will support and greet customers, provide retail sales, marketing through social media, attend events and develop other sustainable reuse and recycling activities.

If you would like more information on any of these placements or would like to apply contact Gemma Russell; gemma.russell@groundwork.org.uk or call 0161 624 1444.