Our long term ambition is to become a recognised training resource where visually impaired people can gain the necessary skills, experience and confidence to move into employment, either with an employer or through self-employment. Successful trainees gain a NVQ1 qualification in horticulture. Even those not aiming for paid employment or a formal qualification benefit from the increased confidence and well-being which the training offers. We operate a buddy system where a volunteer will oversee and help with activities, often leading to firm and lasting friendships and mitigating the isolation the visually impaired can experience. Knowing that they are making a significant contribution to a project with a defined outcome gives trainees a true sense of achievement. Once restored, the garden will become a continuing training resource for Foresight clients and a resource for the community as a whole.
Capital funding will be needed to restore the coach house and kit it out as an information and resource centre for the walled garden. It is currently used only to store machinery. Our aim is to create an outdoor exhibition space which tells the story of the site as a whole. We want to show the link between the people who have used it, the types of plants that have been grown over the years and the way that the garden has evolved. We will also show the strong link between the garden, educational establishments and local astronomers, who had such an impact on the nation’s interest in space exploration, during the latter half of the twentieth century.
Then and now
Teignmouth Town Council supported the project from the outset and funded a detailed plan from LHC Architects of Exeter for the fully restored garden. Further funding from the National Lottery’s Awards for All programme, Sport Relief, the Finnis Scott Foundation and others enabled us to clear years of growth and debris from the walls, grounds and coach house so that work could begin on readying the garden itself.
After a hiatus in development and fundraising while a longer 5-year lease was acquired, work to implement the LHC concept is now going ahead. Training is currently concentrated on ground preparation, soil improvement, planting and weeding. Training in nursery techniques, which has taken place uninterrupted, will also continue to play an important role.
Immediate plans are to complete construction of raised beds, to facilitate access for those with limited mobility, to install a polytunnel to extend the planting season and to establish a drip irrigation system to aid water conservancy. In a bid to foster understanding of the links between meteorology and horticulture we aim to install a small weather station in the garden. This could also contribute to practical education for TCS pupils in the future.