Muddy Fork, Retford’s ‘gardening for wellbeing’ charity, based at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s Idle Valley Nature Reserve, is poised to move forward as life starts to resume after lockdown. Two successful grant applications have put the charity on a far more secure financial footing, ensuring that when groups start again, post-pandemic, Muddy Fork is well-equipped to support the mental health needs of participants old and new.
The organisation has been successful in applications to the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, a Government initiative in partnership with the National Lottery, and to the Boots Charitable Trust. The coronavirus funds are specifically designed to help organisations meet the social challenges which the pandemic has generated, while the Boots grant is part of the company’s ongoing support for charities in Nottingham and Notts, its home territory. Some of the funding will pay for structural improvements at the site – irrigation systems and rabbit-proof fencing (oh the joys of gardening in a nature reserve!) – while some will cover core costs, enabling the survival of the charity for a little longer.
The period since lockdown in March has been difficult for Muddy Fork but committed trustees and volunteers have kept the show on the road. Obviously, it has not been possible for groups to meet, and this remains the case still while the visitor centre at Idle Valley remains closed, as groups would need access to toilet and hand-washing facilities. Because of this, the worker has been furloughed.
However an enthusiastic team of garden volunteers has maintained the garden throughout this time, with a rota ensuring that pairs or small groups of people have been working in the garden at least three times a week. Planting, weeding and watering have been ongoing, as has the battle against the rabbits and the slugs. The results, as summer comes to an end, are clearly seen in the form of the produce which volunteers are now managing to sell to their friends and neighbours.
Trustees, meanwhile, have taken the lead on funding applications, with gratifying outcomes. They chose to mark International Day of Charity on 5th September, set up by the United Nations to enhance social responsibility and increase public support of charitable causes, with a (socially distanced of course) event in the garden. Refreshments were provided to thank the garden volunteers for their efforts, and details were given of the grants approved.
Trustees continue to keep a close eye on the situation and will give the go-ahead to restarting groups as soon as this becomes viable – it is well recognised that lockdown had a significant impact on mental health and the need will be greater than ever. Meanwhile thought is being given to World Mental Health Day in October; although the usual Muddy Fork community event will not be possible, some way will be found to mark the date!
For more information visit www.muddyfork.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.