Garden created to delight the senses

MEP Richard Howitt opens sensory garden designed by Writtle College horticulturists

A sensory garden, designed by horticultural students at Writtle College and built by people with learning disabilities, has been opened by a member of the European Parliament. It is at Sutton Bridge Farm, near Rochford in Essex. Richard Howitt, MEP for the area was there to open it. He told an audience, including local and county dignitaries and garden builders, that he was delighted to have been invited and knew from experience that people enjoyed sensory gardens. Sutton Bridge Farm is owned by the Hamelin Trust. As well as the sensory garden, it features a small copse, allotments, a pond and other gardens. The trust was formed in 1979 to help families caring for children with special needs. It has grown to become a county-wide group.Forty people regularly work at the garden under the leadership of project manager Simon Bennett, who is a former student of Writtle College. Those who use the site are studying for National Vocational Qualifications and Vocational Foundation Certificates, carried out with the help of the college. The ultimate aim of the project is to establish a gardening co-operative, which may be employed by the trust to work in the grounds of the trust’s care services and, similarly, by other organisations and people in the area. After the official opening, the garden’s staff got a pleasant surprise. Thieves had previously stolen equipment but two local pubs had heard about it, raised money and bought a ride-on mower.

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