Breaking new ground: 25 years of key disability gardening project

Pictured celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Western Trust Sow & Grow Group from left to right are: Christopher Sweeney, Service User; Ryan Burton, Service User; Desy Cartan, former Day Services Manager; Caroline Morewood, Day Services Manager, Sow & Grow and Donal Kelly, Senior Horticulturist.
Pictured celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Western Trust Sow & Grow Group from left to right are: Christopher Sweeney, Service User; Ryan Burton, Service User; Desy Cartan, former Day Services Manager; Caroline Morewood, Day Services Manager, Sow & Grow and Donal Kelly, Senior Horticulturist.

Those involved in a pioneering project involving people with learning disabilities taking part in sowing and growing produce have celebrated its 25th year in operation.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust Sow & Grow Group have been providing horticultural day opportunities for adults with a learning disability in the Derry area since 1991. The celebrations included a lunch at the Waterfoot Hotel in the city.

Pictured celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Western Trust Sow & Grow Group standing from left to right are: Robert Blakely; Marcus Kitson; Chris Sweeney; Ryan Burton and Philip Kincaid. Seated from left to right are: Jackie Gilmore; Paul O'Kane; David Bredin; Kenny Gilmour and Maurice Dalzell.

Pictured celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Western Trust Sow & Grow Group standing from left to right are: Robert Blakely; Marcus Kitson; Chris Sweeney; Ryan Burton and Philip Kincaid. Seated from left to right are: Jackie Gilmore; Paul O'Kane; David Bredin; Kenny Gilmour and Maurice Dalzell.

Carina Boyle, Head of Service Learning Disability for the Western Trust said: “I would like this opportunity to acknowledge all the work being carried out by the staff in the Sow & Group group in delivering such wonderful opportunities for adults with a learning disability to engage in horticultural training and development.

This ensures adults with a learning disability are able to participate fully in our society in an extremely positive integrated service which we are all very proud of. We look forward to continuing to work together in the future.”

Caroline Morewood, Day Centre Manager, Sow & Grow, commented: “The success of this project is due to the extremely dedicated staff team who ensure adults with learning disabilities participate fully in a very positive horticultural workplace.

“The service users have benefitted greatly from the on-going support of the staff team and the Western Trust and continue to learn and develop horticultural skills in a very positive workplace.

Pictured celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Western Trust Sow & Grow Group standing from left to right are: Sam Caldwell; Kenny Mullan; Thomas Moore; Joe Carey and Micheal McEldowney. Seated from left to right are: Robert Brown; Paddy Green; Aidan Deehan; Chris Gibson and Jimmy Sweeney.

Pictured celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Western Trust Sow & Grow Group standing from left to right are: Sam Caldwell; Kenny Mullan; Thomas Moore; Joe Carey and Micheal McEldowney. Seated from left to right are: Robert Brown; Paddy Green; Aidan Deehan; Chris Gibson and Jimmy Sweeney.

“This ensures active community integration and social inclusion.”

Caroline added: “I would like to thank all the partner organisations that we work closely with, including FOLD Housing Association, Derry City & Strabane District Council, the Foyle Parents & Friends Association, Oakgrove School and the North West Regional College. Sow & Grow would not have had the success that it has had without the support of the local community, and our valuable and loyal customers and suppliers.”

Beginning in 1991, Sow & Grow was an initiative set up in partnership between the Foyle Health and Social Care Trust at the time (now Western Trust) and the Derry Initiative. The programme was started initially for a three year period as a pilot with 10 service users. The Learning Disability Directorate took this forward and the programme has grown significantly over the 25 years and is now supporting 23 service users from the Derry and Limavady areas in the area of horticulture.