Hidden along Infield Lane, at the top of High Hazels Park in Darnall, is a community allotment, packed full of all kinds of plants. On Tuesday 18th July, on a very wet afternoon, a group gathered at the allotment to celebrate the official opening of a new outdoor shelter, which has been built at the plot thanks to funding from the East Local Area Committee.
Participants from Darnall Well Being’s “On The Plot” sessions and the weekly Grow Together allotment group, along with some of the allotment’s founding members, were joined by local councillors Mary Lea, Zahira Naz and Mazher Iqbal to mark the occasion – and the new shelter provided much needed cover from the afternoon’s rain!
Dr Jack Czauderna, a retired Darnall GP and founder of local community organisation Darnall Well Being, opened proceedings by talking about his vision for health across the whole of Darnall. He pointed out that health isn’t just about not being ill; it’s about growing plants, being outdoors, nutritious food, mental wellbeing and so much more. Sixteen years ago, Jack worked with local resident Alamara “Cookie” Munshi to take on the community plot, and he recalls Cookie saying from the very early days that if only they had a shelter, they could offer art sessions and other activities.
Jack said, “For a long time, there was very little indoor space on the plot at all – just a small shed and a polytunnel. Thank you to Darnall Well Being for successfully applying for funding to help get this shelter built at last.”
The ribbon to officially open the shelter was cut by Cookie, and the shelter has been named “Cookie’s Corner”, in recognition of her vision all that time ago of what a shelter could bring. As Cookie noted, “People have come and gone at the plot, and all have taken away inspiration about how to de-stress from the time they’ve spent here. The more that people come, the more they love it and the more they want to do on the plot.”
Sarah Emberson, who works at the allotment as well as for Green City Action, said, “It’s really exciting to get this shelter built – it completely opens up what we can do.” It will provide shelter from the rain, wind and sun, and is available to book by anyone who wishes to use it for an activity. Some activities have already taken place using the shelter, including a Green Social Prescribing visit to the plot, organised by Darnall Well Being for local women, and a strawberry cream tea, which was open to the public.
Darnall Allotment Project is open to the public to come and get involved in helping to run it on Fridays from 10am to 1pm. The “On The Plot” sessions are specifically for people with Dementia and their carers, and are run on Tuesday afternoons by Darnall Well Being’s Jo-Anne van Levesley with support from volunteers. The sessions are open to local people with Dementia and their carers. Other events are also held at the plot, including annual apple juicing and Christmas wreath making sessions.
You can find out about future events at the allotment via their Facebook page.
There is more information about our Dementia activities at the allotment and elsewhere on our website here.