Growing for Joy with Swindon’s Wonky Veg Club

Growing for Joy with Swindon’s Wonky Veg Club

If you visit Roves Farm on a Thursday morning, you’ll find a group of people chatting whilst they plant seeds, sharing a pot of coffee during weeding breaks, and enjoying beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. “It’s a very calm place to be. You’re out in a field, you’ve got the birds singing, the wildlife, you can see the mice running around and the odd rabbit,” describes Lindsey, a volunteer at the Wonky Veg Club.


Born out of a desire for a community garden project where people could connect, learn new skills and enjoy the great outdoors, the Wonky Veg Club began two years ago and now boasts a thriving space. Walking through, you’ll see rows of growing vegetables, a polytunnel and homemade potting benches and beds.


“We’re growing as we go along, really, both in knowledge and skills. Some members of the group like doing infrastructure projects, some like to just weed, some just like to plant seeds, so we try to work to everyone’s strengths,” explains Lindsey, speaking to the mindset that characterises the club.  


Volunteers get to take home harvested veg to use at home, but it also makes it way into the Roves Farm Shop& Café. “The food miles – I’m thinking I’m walking 200 yards from a field to a farm shop! Some of the visitors can see us coming in from the field with the veg.”  


The café will often request certain produce is grown, and the cut-and-come-again salad leaves are particularly popular. From this, the club put money back towards seed costs and other essentials.  


Food education is also a big part of what the Wonky Veg Club do. “In February we did bean planting activities for people that were visiting the farm, teaching them how to make a plant pot out of a toilet roll.” After the event, the veg goes on display so returning visitors can see what they’ve grown. “We want to educate children on the importance of where food comes from and encourage more healthy eating – we show them how easy it is to do: ‘look how easy it is to plant a seed with a cardboard tube and some dirt from the ground. If you can’t buy seeds then save some from a pepper, plant it and see what grows.’ That’s how we try to engage with them.” 


They meet most weeks and promote a feeling of camaraderie and getting as involved as you’d like to. “My background is an occupational therapist,” shares Lindsey, “so activity has always been important to me and making it accessible so anyone can be a part of it. The mindfulness benefits are really important to me.”


As anyone who has spent time outdoors can attest to, getting out and spending time in nature can do wonders for your wellbeing. Growing for Joy is one of Plant and Share’s themed weeks, and one that particularly resonates with the Wonky Veg Club. “We want people to learn how to cook their own veg, how good it is to eat fresh veg and that satisfaction of eating something you’ve grown, but also how good it is to get outside – that wellbeing and physical element of getting fit.” 


The club’s Plant and Share event is taking place on 18th April, the week of Growing for Joy, and will focus on getting people involved with an open morning. “Come and join us, see what we do, be a part of us. We’re all a happy bunch, growing makes you feel good! Feel the fresh air, we’ve got beautiful views,” says Lindsey with a smile.  


So what are you waiting for? The great outdoors and the Wonky Veg Club are waiting for you to join them!

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