Hear from Rachel, our Wellbeing Coordinator for Kindling Trust,at Woodbank Park Community Food Hub on our first and very special Grow, Cook & Eat session of 2022.
For those of you who don’t know, Grow, Cook & Eat is part of our health and wellbeing programme, where people can be referred via health care professionals (and other local services) to come and spend time in our beautiful growing space. We garden and harvest food together then make a delicious vegetarian meal using organic vegetables from the Community Garden, Farm Start or Veg Box People. We work on the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ model, Connect; Be Active; Take Notice; Learn; Give.
A couple of days ago we ran our first in a series of sessions, with a group of Kurdish refugees from Iraq who have been housed temporarily at a local hotel. We were approached by a GP who explained that many of the patients she sees there don’t leave their rooms outside of mealtimes and are experiencing various mental health issues.
With the huge challenges that refugee groups go through on route to the UK and continue to face while here, and with us never having run our programme with a non-english language group before, we weren’t sure how it would work out. But we were absolutely sure that it was something we should be doing with Woodbank Community Food Hub, so we decided to give it a go: and it was amazing!
On the tour of the site we talked about the produce we are growing and methods for organic food production, and we learnt a lot from the group about foods grown and eaten in Iraq. One person’s father was a farmer, and we had a great discussion on the differences and similarities of farming here and in Iraq. Another participant showed us pictures from his own garden and the fruits trees and vegetables he grew there. Things we could only dream of, like figs, lemons, and grape vines.
As part of our sessions we discuss the hopes and worries people may have while at the sessions. One group member said his hope was that we would all be able to sit in the field and eat a picnic together after Ramadan has ended. This is a wonderful idea that we hope to do next month. Many of the participants are desperately missing home-cooking and having the ability to cook for themselves, though they were very grateful for the care and generosity they had been shown. They were therefore so happy to be able to prepare a Fattoush salad together as a group and to use familiar ingredients such as pomegranate molasses and Sumac spice mix. As it is currently Ramadan the group took back the salad to share with friends and family at the hotel for Iftar (the evening meal at sunset).
I’ll leave you with a comment from Chinar (our amazing interpreter for the session) “The group, myself included, had a great time learning about gardening in the UK. It was really good for them to have some quality time away from the hotel, feeling safe and happy” - Chinar Najib - Kurdish Translator - Culture Bridge.
We also had a really lovely time and are very much looking forward to getting to know more about the group and together cooking up lots of delicious seasonal veg recipes. This includes the group teaching us how to make Dolma (stuffed leaves) with our freshly harvested Chard leaves next week and various other Kurdish delights!
This group will be with us for 5 weeks and we hope to work with other groups from the hotel and develop our offer to refugees and asylum seekers in the Stockport area.