Volunteer’s Week: Finding my inner peas

Lothians funding officer Marie holding her bucket of weeds

For #VolunteersWeek 2019, members of The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland team headed out to National Lottery funded organisations to volunteer. This is a blog written by our Lothians funding officer Marie McArdle, discussing her experience volunteering for Woodlands Community Garden.

One of the best things about being a Funding Officer at The National Lottery Community Fund is that every day is different, and this day sure was! My Wednesday morning starts of as usual – Spin class, breakfast, potter around the flat for too long and then rush out the door.  Today, rather than my work attire I am kitted out in my waterproof gear and hiking boots – of course it’s raining the day I am going to volunteer in a garden!

Members of Team Scotland volunteering

My colleagues and I arrive at 10am at Woodlands Community Garden, keen to give our time as part of #VolunteersWeek2019 but also unsure what to expect. We are greeted by the lovely Vicki and Jerry, and we enjoy a hot cup of tea and a blether before getting stuck into the hard graft – the way every good day must start! After a walk around the gardens the list of jobs is given, so we don our gloves and get to work. The team set about creating a new path, building a new flower bed, and lifting stones whilst I set off on my own mission – weeds. Luckily for me the garden has plenty ranging from big established weeds, tiny wee weeds sticking out of stones, undercover ‘unsure if it’s a weed’ weeds, you name it and I will find it. I had never thought such a simple task could bring so much joy but every weed I pulled from the root gave a strange sense of satisfaction – I am hooked!

Marie and colleagues getting to work in the garden

The Woodlands Community Development Trust, (WCDT), focuses on the long-term regeneration of the Woodlands area and have a real commitment to creating a sense of community. In doing this they are decreasing social isolation and increasing confidence as people are making new friends and learning new skills. The have a whole load of volunteers from different backgrounds who have been attending for years now and I can see why. The gardens just off the M8 and are surrounded by busy streets with shops and pubs, yet it feels like a place of sanctuary. Thankfully, the rain did not last and I could really take in the lush green surroundings and hear the lovely wildlife chirping away around me whilst I dealt with those magnificent weeds.

Rhubarb with Rhian working in the background

If getting grubby in the garden is not your bag they have plenty more on offer to ensure you can get involved and get to meet people from the community. They have a community hub which is well used, a singing group and a Community Café which sees them feed up to 70 people on a Monday night which is just fantastic! What better way to get out the house and make new friends than by enjoying a lovely hot meal together? Its perfect.

I have always loved the outdoors and being in a garden but will be honest and say I have never really been put to work in one. I loved it and will be back, and as the old saying goes ‘new gardeners learn by TROWEL and error’.

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