Jekka is a great fan of Putting Down Roots which is St Mungo’s’ horticultural therapy and training project. It uses gardening as a tool to help people in their recovery by helping to build people’s self-esteem, confidence and sociability.
Jekka designed the Quiet Garden in Notting Hill, London. This was the second St Mungo’s and Jo Malone London charity garden that opened in 2017. St Mungo’s clients, gardener trainers and Jo Malone London volunteers still care for the garden in Jekka's original country garden design.
We have continued to champion Putting Down Roots, St Mungo’s and the Jo Malone London partnership in Bristol. It was wonderful to invite them to our Open Day on the 6th August to raise money for their project. At our summer charity open day, a group of 16 clients from Putting Down Roots in Bristol came to the farm along with Lamorna Hooker, their Regional Fundraising Coordinator. Below is her summary of the day.
Putting Down Roots Charity Open Day
Gardener Trainer, RubyJo Narbey, was excited about going back to Jekka’s Herb Farm, after the group visited last year. “We were all really excited as more than half the group went to an Open Day last September and loved meeting Jekka who spent a lot of time with us telling us about different herbs, getting us to taste them and saying what it could be used for which was so informative. We all chose a herb each which are now planted in our Physic Garden as homage to Jekka and her amazing herbs.
On this visit we felt honoured that she chose PDR to fundraise for. We wore our maroon t-shirts proudly as Jekka & her son Alistair welcomed us on site with open arms and great big smiles.
Jekka gave a talk on a few special herbs and got us to taste them, with some responses being nods of approval or grimaces which was funny. All the clients & volunteers chose a packet of Jekka’s seeds and are all now keen to start sowing them in our new polytunnel.
We talked with Jekka about the PDR group coming back to the farm for a working day as this will be such valuable work experience for everyone to see how a nursery operates behind the scenes. The day was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to experience something new, to learn and taste unusual herbs from Jekka and to share their own experiences of the day with each other.
We were all buzzing more than the bees in the garden!”
Julie Baly, Gardener Trainer, said “I think it is special for PDR Bristol to be able to link with Jekka and her team because they are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the plants they raise and this really feeds our enthusiasm for herbs and plants beyond how they look and smell! In addition the trip to Jekka’s Herb Farm gave us all a chance to get out of the city and visit a very special place – there is something about Jekka’s that draws you in to the moment; to looking at the huge range of herbs and focussing, enjoying the smell and sometimes the taste and the joy of discovery. We also got a lot from the talks about bees and Jekka’s talk focussing on different herbs and we were still talking about it all on the way home and for days afterwards when we meet on the allotment. A truly memorable day!”
Our PDR Bristol volunteers also really enjoyed the day.
“I really enjoyed learning about bees and how they store pollen and nectar. I also enjoyed seeing the herb beds and all the amazing insect life on them and just seeing how much you can build up over a long period of time. Jekka’s talk was really interesting too, where she talked about the medicinal properties of herbs and hearing about her travels. Being in such a healthy positive space and seeing the interaction between the wildlife and plants was really refreshing.”
“I think my favourite part was meeting Jekka and hearing her presentation on her herboretum. We had a good old chat afterwards which was really cool. She’s spent the last 30 years building her herboretum.”
“It was just nice to get out of the town and I’m looking forward to going back up there to help them with sorting out their compost.”
“There were a few things I learnt about the different herbs – one specific thing was about the different types of mint! My favourite was the chocolate mint. I also learnt more about bees, about the different varieties and how different bees pollinate different plants. They all have their own mission! Jekka’s really is like a living classroom. I find learning about horticulture really relaxing and educational and being able to ask lots of questions. I’m used to the city life, so it was really relaxing to get out into the countryside and really get into nature.”
We are looking forward to welcoming them back for our Christmas Charity Open Days on the 3rd & 4th December 2021 – coupons on sale now.
To give to the Putting Down Roots Program, please see their website here