In 2014, people we support, our staff and volunteers collaborated with Sustainable Wantage and Wantage Day Service (County Council) to transform a dilapidated area into a tranquil and successful market garden.
The garden gives adults with learning disabilities and autism an opportunity to enjoy the recreational and therapeutic benefits of gardening and to develop new skills. The garden provides opportunities to be involved in meaningful and rewarding occupation in an attractive, quiet, safe environment, whilst gaining work experience. It is also a green space in which to relax and socialise. The people we support grow flowers, fruit and veg, some of this produce is taken home and eaten by our people and some is delivered to our tearoom. Currently there are 26 regular users of the Market Garden from Style Acre in the summer and 13 in the winter.
This is a terrific community resource and working alongside Sustainable Wantage has been a rewarding experience and a positive partnership. The volunteer group organise courses e.g. with Incredible Edible Oxford, to encourage gardening in the local community. The garden has 10-15 regular volunteers and we welcome corporate volunteering teams through the year. A local Brownie pack has earned their gardening badge by growing seeds, planting out and harvesting them at the garden. Together the partners have co-organised a Spring Festival, now into its 4th year, a family friendly event which attracts 200 people and where everyone, of all ages or ability, mix and enjoy crafts, music and the plants.
Corporate volunteer teams have supported us at the market garden and we are grateful to employees of NatWest, PepsiCo, Vodafone, Lloyds, Lombard and Amey, who have all donated hundreds of hours of support, enabling us to keep up with maintenance, build a shed, create paths, compost storage and make raised beds for our wheelchair users.