Margaret Moore says that joining the U3A gardening club was one of the best decisions she ever made.
Margaret, who is originally from Dunfanaghy in Donegal, was speaking as joined the rest of the group on a walking tour of the flower beds in and around the U3A building in the grounds of Gransha on Wednesday.
Margaret, a retired school teacher, says that while the gardening club is a great way of learning skills she thinks that the service U3A (University of the Third Age) provides is second to none.
“The gardening club has gone from strength to strength since October,” says Margaret.
“I enjoy gardening but when I heard that the U3A had decided to bring in Gareth Austin I decided to give it go.
“I didn’t know everyone in the group but it’s been one of the best clubs I have ever joined - I have met so many new people and I enjoy learning about gardening.
“I have tried growing a few things at home but I have high hopes this time around because Gareth is full of advice and I make sure to write down as much as I can.
“I’d like to be able to grow some nice plants, fruit trees and maybe some herbs and vegetables. Well, if that’s what I want to do I know I am in the right place,”
North West Regional College horticulture lecturer, Gareth Austin, facilitates the U3A gardening club and every Wednesday evening at around 3p.m. to share ideas, tips and advice.
“I think there’s always been a gardening club in some shape or form at U3A but before we started up again last month, there was four people in the club, now there are 26,” said Gareth.
Gareth has worked with many different community groups all over Derry and parts of Donegal but he said that working with the U3A gardening club is like nothing he has ever tried before.
“They are a great group of people to work with. They all have their own gardens at home - some of them are really impressive. Many of the men and women in the group really know what they are talking about so much so I’ll be looking over my back,” he laughs.
Helen McNicholl has been a member of U3A for ten years. Helen was also chairperson for three years and she says that the gardening club is but one of the many activities that U3A has on offer for its members.
“I am a retired teacher and when I stopped working I knew that I needed some sort of structure in my life - so I had heard of U3A and decided to give it a go.
“It’s great coming here because it enables me to plan my entire week. If there’s something that I am interested in I’ll give it at least one try.
“There’s literally something for everyone at U3A and it’s also a great way of meeting new people.”
U3A has a variety of clubs including the camera club, the badminton club and the walking club. Helen says that whilst all of the activities are popular amongst U3A members there’s a social side to many of activities too.
“Not everyone who comes to U3A would know one another. Our members come from all over Derry, Donegal and I think there are a few people from Limavady here too.
“Many friendships have been made through U3A - I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a joy coming here and I just hope that Gareth Austin will be able to help me with a better harvest of potatoes and carrots next year,” she smiles.