I’ve always enjoyed working outside, using my hands, and
being surrounded by nature. I began my Horticulture apprenticeship with Kent
Enterprise Trust on 3rd December 2018, with a view to developing
skills that I might need for the future, and to support the Trust in its
mission to help people get back into work. Working with the Trust has also
given me the opportunity to begin an RHS Level 2 Horticulture Course at Hadlow
College, which would be very beneficial for my future plans to become
self-employed. I believe that gardening and being in a space that is
non-threatening is also extremely helpful in improving people’s self-esteem, as
new skills are constantly being taught and shared.
Although the environment can be
informal, the projects that we are working on are structured and planned so
that we ensure that the garden is always moving towards its full potential. I
personally feel a huge sense of satisfaction when it comes to help building
structures such as the new polytunnel at the Community Oasis Garden site and
sourcing the materials for such tasks.
It is also important that we share
ideas with other community gardens, and this is a skill that the Trust is
helping me to develop. I appreciate the fact that I am able to attend other
gardens and network with like-minded people, and advance my current working
knowledge. A key word that I consider relevant for the Trust is
‘collaboration’, and this is something that is important for its future as a
sustainable space, which is important for the people’s general wellbeing and
“As a volunteer/Trainee I am finding it very
rewarding and well worthwhile. I would recommend it here at the Kent Enterprise
Trust, if you would like to learn key skills to further your career chances or
to add new skills to your repertoire.”
S Improving Lives Participant
“Before starting improving lives I didn’t have
much confidence, I had no routine and hadn’t been in work for a while. I am so
glad I have had the opportunity to do this work experience now as it has helped
me massively. The people that work here are friendly, kind and always willing
– Improving Lives Participant
“In the time that I have spent at Links House
on the Improving lives Course, I have found the staff and volunteers at the
Kent Enterprise Trust to be really supportive and encouraging people. They are
always on hand to help with any issues you may have. Their help has made me
realise that those things that once might have held me back are not impossible
to get round. They are lovely positive people who have given me support and
encouragement to try and start my own little business. They have also helped me
to boost my confidence and try to overcome my own pain issues and depression by
not judging me. They let you do things at your pace. I would truly and
wholeheartedly recommend the work of the Trust to anyone looking for employment
or for just improving their own life and communication skills and confidence
levels in general.”
Improving Lives Participant
“At first I wasn’t too sure how I would get on.
After the first day I quickly realized that I was with a good set of people who
were easy to get on with. That in mind I became more comfortable talking to
each person. With all the bits I done and people I met I can easily say I
enjoyed my time here and would recommend anyone lacking in confidence or low
self-esteem should take part in one of these courses.”
– Improving Lives Participant
“Very friendly. Not intimidating, helpful and
kind and reassuring, welcoming and respectful. Lots of opportunities and things
to do there and people were treated as individuals. I was able to do my work
experience at Whitstable Castle which I enjoy. And take advantage of the
– Growth Journey Participant
“There isn’t many companies/people that would
give me the opportunities and trust KET offered and gave me.Thanks to KET I
have grown so much as a person and overcome depression, anxiety and issues I
didn’t even know were issues until they were gone. Your work experience
programme and subsequent voluntary position gave me the confidence I needed in
life to rebuild old friendships and offered me hope.”
– Kent Enterprise Garden Participant
“I have found volunteering at Community Oasis
Garden a really rewarding experience. I enjoy being able to collaborate with
the other gardeners, as well as help to support other attendees that might not
feel so confident in their own abilities. It is a really positive thing to see
the garden space becoming a place for people to go to relax, create, and grow
things. I think that the potential for the garden is infinite, which makes it a
really inspiring thing to be a part of. I am hoping that I can further my skills
and knowledge, while also being able to work on my own confidence and gain a
career in the sector. “
– Kent Enterprise House Volunteer
“I would like to thank Kent enterprise trust
for all the volunteer work they gave me. It really has helped boost my
confidence and helped me get a new job after 3 years of no work. Thank you”
R- Kent Enterprise Gardens Participant “I have benefited quite well from taking part in the Improving Lives Programme. Since joining, I have developed a few new skills. These include working with certain types of plants, carpentry, able to make a fire and how to stay safe while working. This programme has helped me quite a bit and I’ve enjoyed working with some of the other people that participated. I would recommend Improving Lives to anybody currently looking to find work in a garden environment.”
expanded our garden and practical skills provision at Herne Bay and Canterbury
during the last 12 months to enable our beneficiaries to walk or cycle to our
services which are now open 4 days a week with thanks to donations, sponsorship
During the year from April 2018 to March 2019 we supported 57 people, 27
of whom were longstanding volunteers who may be retired or long-term
unemployed, 18 were new learners who are not in employment, training or
education and 13 were students from Kent University seeking work experience,
employability points or fresh air and wellbeing.
Both sites are kindly let to us on a peppercorn rent to engage the
community in sustainable organic food growing with demonstrations on tool
maintenance and repairs in an inclusive space that is accessible to all by
providing the following benefits:
A safe environment for vulnerable and potentially vulnerable people.
Training and advice from horticulturalists and experienced gardeners.
Provision of skill and knowledge that will support into gainful employment.
A site to be used by the community for gardening projects.
A venue that promotes healthy living, eating and wellbeing.
We extended our outdoor service provision as follows:
Allotment Gardening at Herne Bay funded by Henry Smith
Grow Wild at Herne Bay funded by Greggs
Allotment Gardening at KentCOG funded by Big Lottery
Community Kitchen at KentCOG funded by West Kent Housing
Wellbeing Wednesdays at KentCOG funded by University of Kent
Level 1 Horticulture Traineeships at KentCOG funded by Groundworks
Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeships at KentCOG funded by Colyer-Fergusson
Plant Stall and Tuck Shop to provide retail and cash handling experience at Herne Bay and KentCOG
KentCOG Community Oasis Garden is growing from strength to strength. A few weeks ago Kent Enterprise Trust celebrated a year working at the site, restoring it to its former glory. It is now providing produce to harvest, wellbeing sessions, Level 1 Horticulture Traineeships, Level 2 Horticulture Apprenticeships and work experience with practical skills for students, volunteers and unemployed adults.
The garden is accessible to anyone, all year round, with sessions for training and support by DBS checked Safeguarding Officers and First Aiders on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 to 14:00. We support approximately 12 people per session, from 18-100 years, with retired volunteers mentoring and supporting younger volunteers. Kent Enterprise Trust is a well-established registered charity based in Herne Bay, recognized for changing people’s lives by supporting them with training and mentoring to be able to make a return to part-time or full-time employment.
Our plans for later
this year are to build an outdoor classroom, create a sensory garden and plant
daffodils with Canterbury In Bloom volunteers, we also have an open day on
Wednesday 17 July at Midday where you can meet us, see the garden and find out
more about how you can help or join the project with your time, knowledge, plants
We welcome anyone who is out of work and is interested in volunteering for the first time and willing to learn new skills and gain some work experience or train in horticulture. If you are retired or semi-retired and are free on a Tuesday or Wednesday, want to get fit, make some new friends in a friendly relaxed social environment, gain new experiences or just exchange your gardening knowledge come and join in.
With huge thanks to our training providers and funders, The University of Kent, Big Lottery, Henry Smith, Colyer-Fergusson, Tesco and Earnest Cook. For helping us make this community project the success it is.
We now have a letterbox at the garden, thanks to our apprentice Ed’s handywork – Thanks Ed.
And what a few weeks it’s been, the rain didn’t put us off with brainstorming ideas for a new sensory garden coming soon and plenty of seeds planted in the poly tunnel growing for us to plant or sell.
There are lots more plants outside now and bespoke rabbit net constructions, made to keep Peter and his friends at bay! 🐇 Don’t forget our plant sales stand at the entrance, its these very plant sale donations that allow us to buy more soil and seeds to sow…
AM I CRAZY!?!
On the 25th of July (41 sleeps) I will be jumping out of a plane for our beneficiaries… I want to show that I can try to conquer my fear of flying in the most extreme way and inspire others to conquer their fears. Please help me to help improve the lives of our beneficiaries… We support many adults with mental health and learning difficulties to get into or back into the workplace. We desperately need soil, seeds and tools for our gardening project – please help me to help our community. https://www.gofundme.com/abbie039s-skydive
CELEBRATION OF ACHIEVEMENT EVENT
Thursday 20th June from 12:30pm to 2pm at Kent Enterprise House, The Links, Herne Bay CT6 7GQ
Please join us to celebrate our volunteers and all the continuous amazing work they do for us at Kent Enterprise Trust. KET could not survive without the constant support of our amazing volunteers, please join us to thank them for all the work they do. A volunteer is unpaid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless
Blog by Abbie Kay, Project and Fundraising Manager COG
Week four at COG for me and I am pleased to say the Community Oasis Gardens are already my happy place.
The role appealed to me in so many ways, predominately to feel like I am making a difference to others, whilst knowing that working outdoors and physical activity makes me feel so much happier too.
Tranquillity, warm welcomes, such promise of growth not only for our harvest but our community too. Beneficiaries, students, volunteers and employees working alongside each other with tasks and pace’s to suit everyone’s needs.
Smelling the freshly cut grass whilst clearing brambles from an area destined to be a relaxation space for the wellbeing of our community, with bespoke tyre seating in the shade, the smell of fresh herbs surrounding you whilst listening to the birds sing and the bees buzz.
Sugar snap peas, lettuce, tomatoes, marigolds and the promise of a pumpkin competition later in the year. The garden’s are an escape from life’s hustle and bustle, stresses and strains, whilst offering many beneficiaries new life skills, confidence, socialisation and to aim for the end goal of employment.
I am now putting the wheels in motion to carry out my promise to KET, I will complete a Fundraising Sky Dive with the hope of beating my fear of flying and assist these beautiful gardens in remaining a hub for our community to grow alongside the seeds that they sow. The dive will be funded by myself which means every penny raised will go directly to our garden, watch this space for my sponsorship details. I need you all to be behind me on this – I can’t believe I’m going to jump out of a plane!
We are desperate for soil for planting at the moment, without soil we are unable to grow plants to sell on which sustains this amazing place for our community, please do let me know if anyone has any ideas on discounted or free soil.
Blog post by one of our volunteer, a MSc student here at the University of Kent.
I stumbled across the Kent Community Oasis Garden on a walk to the Blean from campus. It was off hours, but after a poke around I got the feeling that it was a positive space. I made note of the hours and was on my way. Finding Canterbury my home away from home and in a milder climate than I am used to getting dirty through the winter sounded like great therapy and right up my alley. It wasn’t till a few weeks later when I needed a location to conduct a micro research project for a methods course did I realize that the garden would be a perfect spot. Studying ethnobotany at Kent, the relationship members had with the physical and social landscape I felt would be an interesting study. If I was drawn in by the potential for positive wellbeing the garden offered, would anyone else? What would those other relationships look like? Does the garden positively impact wellbeing and can the how’s be identified and maybe even quantified? I volunteered weekly to find out. In all kinds of English weather, and luckily not too much rain I helped where I could, observed and interviewed members over six weeks this fall. Among the language and gardening insight was the conclusion that the members of the community take part in a reciprocal, therapeutic landscape contributing to the wellbeing of both the land and the people.
Original post from the the University of Kent News Centre written by Dan Worth.
A new community garden has opened on the Canterbury campus that is designed to become an outdoor space for staff, students and members of the local community to use for a range of activities.
The Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is being developed by the University’s Student Wellbeing and Estates teams in partnership with local charity Kent Enterprise Trust (KET). It is designed to be a collaborative space that anyone can get involved in, whether as an area to unwind and relax or to learn new skills, which is a key focus for KET and its volunteers.
To this end, the garden will provide the opportunity to take part in numerous seasonal initiatives, including growing plants, wildflowers and vegetables, as well as other related activities. The garden is located along the Crab and Winkle pathway to the far east of the Canterbury Campus past the Parkwood accommodation.
The garden is also benefiting in its design from input by Gardeners’ World expert Mark Lane, who lives locally and has provided his services free of charge. In particular, Mark is focusing on the accessibility of the space so that it will be available for as many people as possible to use in the future.
Richard Cottam, Head of Facilities Management in the University’s Estates Department, said: ‘The Kent Community Oasis Garden will provide a fun, engaging and educational space for anyone who wants to get involved and we are proud to be able to host it at the University. All are welcome and we hope as many people as possible will take part. We have big plans for the garden in the years ahead and are grateful to everyone who has helped out so far.’
Other organisations taking an active involvement in the garden are the Whitstable and Herne Bay Beekeepers group, as well as Kent Union and its student-run Gardening and Foraging Society.