St Nicks Ecotherapy meet the participants: Interview with allotment volunteer Eileen

Centre for nature and green living

Ecotherapy meet the participants: Interview with allotment volunteer Eileen

Eileen's garden, she grew the Scots pine and apple tree from seeds.

When did you first get involved with Ecotherapy at St Nicks?

I remember very clearly when I started at St Nicks. It was 2011, the year I retired. I was thinking about life after retirement and saw an article in The Press. St Nicks were seeking volunteers to help plant an orchard on the nature reserve. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to do something different and got in touch. It was really nice for me to look beyond my own garden and get involved in wider conservation work in the community. The experience was wonderful, the people were so friendly and welcoming and not only was I helping to plant an orchard, but I was learning lots too.

 Which Ecotherapy groups have you been involved with?

I’ve been involved with Bearing Fruit and, more recently with Plot to Plate. I’ve also attended various St Nicks events over the years.

Harvested onions grown at the allotment

Harvested onions grown at the allotment

What is your favourite way to connect with nature?

Getting out there! I like to be in nature rather than view it from my window. I enjoy taking walks through the woods and on the moors. I also really enjoy spending time in my garden and growing both food and flowers. I’ve loved everything we’ve done at St Nicks, and have been inspired in lots of ways to connect to nature because of my involvement. I think the allotment is such a beautiful growing space surrounded by trees and a beck. There are so many birds, squirrels and even chickens on the neighboring plot.

Have you begun any nature related projects over the last 12 months?

Yes, in my own garden. I’m completely revamped it. I’ve planted a new tree and I am generally looking after it better by making sure there are lots of wildlife habitats. Also, when I did go the allotment (before lockdown) I stopped just throwing my pruning bits into a random heap, and actually made a neat tidy heap specifically to encourage critters, insects and mammals to use it as a home. I’m looking forward to getting back and seeing who’s used it!

Do you have an environmentally friendly gardening tip that you would like to share?

St Nicks allotment

St Nicks allotment

Yogurt pots! I use them for everything from stopping me poking my eyes with canes to hold up netting.  I also use larger sized plastic bottles by poking holes in them and burying them next to plants. I then just water the container which targets the roots and reduces water waste. Also, because my tap is a long way away from where I grow food, I have put buckets at the end of my garden to collect rain water and use that for watering. Homemade watering butts close to where I need them!

Where do you get nature/ gardening inspiration from?

I’ve learned most of my gardening tips from watching Gardeners World. I also had an allotment a number of years ago and learned a lot from the older generations who had had been tending a plot for years. They were all too happy to share their knowledge and experience, and point out when I was doing something ‘wrong’. I didn’t take every bit of advice, but I did learn a lot. Mostly the older generation just encouraged me to keep going with it, I thought, if they can do it at 80, so can I!

What is your biggest hope for nature this year?

White fox glove growing at the allotment

White fox glove growing at the allotment

Enough people learn from this pandemic about what’s important and what’s not and that more people pay attention to what’s happening in the world and do their bit to restore it.

What have you found the benefits of your involvement at St Nicks to be?

Overall a fantastic experience, I’ve met all sorts of wonderful people and learned all sorts of wonderful things. I’ve done a lot of things that I wouldn’t have done in my own garden. Such lovely, inspiring people at St Nicks.

What would you say to somebody who is thinking about joining Ecotherapy at St Nicks?

Get down there quick and do it!

To learn more about Ecotherapy including how to join the St Nicks allotment group called Plot to Plate, take a look at our web pages here or contact Kathy Sturgess at

17 March 2021 | Categories: Ecotherapy, Inspiration, Natural Habitats