A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Nancy Smith’s ‘Green Fingered Warriors’ workshop in Ipswich.
After recently completing a 3 month trip in rural Nicaragua, learning about their lifestyle; with lack of water and irrigation systems, along with food wastage and general sustainability, Nancy created this event as her ‘action at home’ project, and it was a really interesting experience, which I’m now pestering her to do again so more people can experience it and learn some valuable tools and skills.
She started us off in the kitchen with tea and biscuits – always a winner. We got to hear about some of her Nicaraguan anecdotes and signed up to receive an information pack via email which would contain vital and interesting material to get to grips with after the workshop.
Once everyone had arrived we following Nancy and her notebook of knowledge to the area of her garden dedicated to herbs. I’ve always loved quirky bits of furniture and materials used to create a cool look in the garden, and she had completely inspired me with this piece;
An old retro bath tub full of every herb and more. All separated with roof tiles to make it easier and less crowded too. As a close friend, I’ve always experienced Nancy’s amazing recipes at dinner, and this was an extended pleasure. We got to smell, nibble and guess what each herb was, and then she proceeded to tell us what it was mainly used for and what dishes it went great with. My favourite was the lemon balm; it smelt amazing and I’m excited to grow this in my own herb patch. I actually managed to pinch some from my dad’s own mini nursery, what a result!
Next we following Nancy further down the garden to an area which was being over-grown on purpose. She told us she’d sown a load of wildflowers in these areas which were perfect for attracting wildlife such as butterflies and bees. Later on she told us the growing importance of helping the bees – something which was inspiring and thought-provoking.
She also showed us an old car tyre which she’d jacked off a local car garage (they have to pay to dispose them, so are normally more than happy to give them away for free), spray painted and then planted in. Again, loved the quirky addition to the wild area.
We arrived in the veggie patch – my favourite area – to talk about what Nancy had been trialing and experimenting with. Veggies such as Radishes, Beetroot and Potatoes were all on the list. It was brilliant listening to Nancy as she’s only just starting out herself, so hearing about her trials, as well as tribulations, was super helpful. It started little discussions within the group and we all chipped in with our knowledge to help each other become better green fingered warriors!
My highlight was definitely picking out radishes that were ready and munching on them as we were taken further on the tour.
Next up was the compost bins. I’ve never seen so many in my life! I felt ashamed for not having one as it seems a crucial part to the garden. Nancy passed on her tips though, so I’m going to be contacting the local council to get my hands on a cheap compost bin for the garden to help improve and recycle the land.
After the tour of each section we skipped back to the garage where Nancy had amazingly laid out tons of pots, compost and seeds, ready for us to sow our own. We shoved on the radio and chatted away whilst picking some new plants to try out.
There was hella selection – too much of a kid in a sweet shop scenario. I managed to narrow it down to 3 types of seeds as I’m lacking space in my garden already; Cucumber Crystal Apple (google it- super weird looking variety), Coriander and some Mixed Poppies. Nancy also gave us some wildflower seed packets to encourage the wildlife in our own gardens and surrounding green areas, I definitely took 3 packets.
I plan to use Nancy’s car tyre idea, stack them, then sprinkle in the wildflower and watch them turn into a contained, overgrown mess.
So there you go; a picture of us as Green Fingered Warriors by the end of the morning! It really was a super fun, interesting and great workshop run by the incredible and inspiring Nancy Smith. Hopefully she’ll decide to run another one so more people can come along and join in – I’ll definitely be plugging it on here if so!