Initially encouraged to try something new by her friend following a bereavement in early 2017, Wendy* was inspired by a beautiful sunny morning at the six-acre plot and hasn’t looked back.
“It’s a very special place,” she says. “I was a bit apprehensive and overwhelmed to start with, but spending time at Jealott’s Hill and enjoying its fresh air, wildlife and flowers has helped me overcome my grief to some extent. Bereavement caused me to seek new friends and opportunities and here, that’s exactly what I get.”
Between Bracknell and Maidenhead off the A330, Jealotts Hill Community Landshare, an RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood group, is well used by a wide range of people in the local community – from those wanting to connect with others from a similar background, to horticultural students and people at risk of social isolation.
Sharing skills and produce is at the heart of the project, with groups and individuals growing a huge range of fruit, vegetables, supporting a ‘bee-bank’ – a demonstration of pollinator-friendly planting, a 450-tree orchard, a grassland area allowed to grow wild for wildlife, and a vineyard.
"I've learnt valuable new gardening skills, helped at events, grown lovely fruit and veg and made wonderful new friends."
Looking forward to the future
"I don’t have my own garden and I’ve always worked in an office so this is completely different and inspiring,” says Wendy. “My confidence has grown as well, and I’ve been able to join in and mingle with other gardening groups and activities that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise, so it’s been a great source of company and companionship.”
Wendy is now looking forward to seeing how the site and conditions change through the seasons: “I’m now volunteering full time and feel fulfilled,” she said. “I’ve learned valuable new gardening skills, helped at events, grown lovely fruit and veg and made wonderful new friends. It has also improved my overall health and fitness!”
The project is a partnership between Bracknell Forest Homes, Bracknell Town Council, Warfield Parish Council and Syngenta. To join, participate, sponsor or donate to the gardens, contact David Putt, Project Manager, on 07867 695931, email or visit their website.
*Some names have been changed