I started my time with the Patchworking Garden in 2018. I attended the Thursday morning group, which started at 10AM and finished at 1PM. Back then the three hours spent at Patchwork each week was the longest time I would spend outside my flat. I enjoyed the Thursday morning group activities and liked also how they were not compulsory and it was down to you how you spent your time there. I would usually use the workshop for woodworking and would be happy working on my own. The group activities I would take part in too but keeping to myself and concentrating mostly on the work in hand. I designed a wooden tile using a pyrography kit, made a concrete water bowl for birds, made part of a stained glass flower and moulded a tea mug from clay. These activities helped me a lot at the time to feel that I was being useful. 

A photo showing stained glass flower crafts

Each visit made to the Patchworking Garden I knew that I could do something creative in a calming atmosphere. Some of the things we would make in the group activities I would give to my family and feeling a bit more useful in giving would build more inner confidence in myself.

The sessions would run all year round and in a range of weathers and for someone like me who does not enjoy cold temperatures, being in the cold and being ok has definitely helped me a lot.  

Patchwork would occasionally have work sessions where we would come in on a different day to the normal session and work at a project for the garden. These would normally be of a landscaping nature. In one we built the concrete base for a greenhouse, we helped building the paths around the garden, helped increasing the capacity of the car park and helped deconstructing the poly tunnel and in another session helped build the foundation for the new Alitex greenhouse in the place where the poly tunnel stood. I also took part in making shingles for the roof of the round house. The work groups reignited my passion for working outside with my hands. In the past I have worked as a labourer on building sites and working in the work groups at Patchwork made me realise the good feeling you get of having done physical work in the open air and how it will make the time spent at home afterwards better and would make my sleep better too. 

In 2019 I was told about a possibility of starting a official qualification in Horticulture through a new course The Patchworking Garden will host starting in September called the Patchworking Academy. I said I was interested and I started the City and Guilds Horticulture level 1 course in Ockley in September 2019. The course was on Monday and Tuesday from 10AM to 3PM. In attending the course it brought in a new confidence in myself in learning. Discussing about plants and sharing points of view in the group and going into detail into the science of horticulture really made a difference in my life as you could use your knowledge every time you are out in nature and I found out most people like to talk about plants and it gave me confidence to speak to new people. I found that learning about plants brings out a sense of curiosity in myself that is similar to being a child and learning about how the world works.

During my time with the Patching Academy I stared doing work of my own with the occasional day of helping someone with gardening work or doing odd jobs. These days were normally spaced a month apart but it got me thinking that it would be great to have a full time job doing this sort of thing. Whenever an opportunity came up with this type of work I would say yes to it and I would make sure that I would give it my full energy. This had a good effect, as the people who I worked for would often need me to come again to do more jobs.  

By the start of this year I was still attending the Academy now on level 2 City and Guilds horticulture and getting more and more private work. I passed my driving test just before the Christmas and was able to start up my own gardening business in January 2023. Since then I have been busy with the course on Monday and Tuesday and clients on the other weekdays and sometimes weekend. 

When starting the course full time work seemed like something far off, which I might do if forced to do, but I was not looking forward to it. Since starting my business I now look forward to doing as much work as possible. This sense of achievement would not have been possible without the help and support provided by the Patchworking Academy and Garden Project. 

Thank you so much.