Good news!

Good news no 1:  The dead shed has been given a new lease of life as compost bays, currently housing copious amounts of cow manooooore.  Lovely! 😉

Good news no 2:  Keep Wales Tidy have said that we can go ahead and use outstanding funds from their grant to purchase a sturdy new shed.

Good news no 3:  Environment Wales are inviting us to submit a bid for the items from the original KWT grant, so it looks like the wildlife pond will still get the chance to be built.

This is most certainly a thank and praise the Lord moment.  Care to join me in a Hallelujah, dear Wibfolk? 🙂

Bread for a shed – we hope

I have been in e-mail contact with Keep Wales Tidy since the demise of our green metal shed.  They appear to be willing to re-allocate some funding, which had been awarded initially for other items, in order to cover the cost of a replacement shed.  They are also happy to extend the deadline for spending the grant and also for us to provide evidence of expenditure.  I now need to put together an amendment to the original grant application, outlining our proposed re-distribution of funds.

It would be easy to assume that these encouraging signs are a guarantee of a positive outcome, but life has taught me never to take things for granted.  To that end, please pray for this matter, thanking God for the encouraging signs to far and asking Him to provide a good outcome (I’m hoping that His idea of the correct outcome is the same as the one I have!)

Thanks. 🙂

It is an ill wind

We have a new cloche…

We also have the means to make compost bays…

Unfortunately, the cloche used to be the shed roof; the compost bays its walls!

Please be in prayer for us to be able access the funding to buy  a new shed very soon.


Ebenezer – part the second

Winter 08 – The second plot was rented, adjacent to the initial one.  Chris and his group of volunteers started to help us  on a regular basis.  This was helpful for a number of reasons – people-power, the insurance and tools provided by Chris’ group plus the fact that I was able to make use of his expertise.  We identified 3 committee members at this point and I purchased the first ever seeds for sowing at the plot.  Jeff started to do some lay preaching, and the donations he was given for this formed the basis of my petty cash system which would soon be raided on a regular basis for necessities such as compost.  There was a cloud on the horizon, however, as it appeared that we may soon lose the help of Chris and his team.

Spring 08 – Sadly, we did lose Chris and co at this stage, along with the insurance they brought with them.  Work on the plot slowed considerably at this point, but  Jon was still helping.  He assisted me in the planting of the first crop – some early potatoes.  I also submitted my first ever plot-related grant application to cover basic equipment costs and the also in order to purchase our own insurance.  Things became fairly difficult, with weeds and other hindrances causing some frustration.


No, I have not forgotten that Christmas has been and gone.  This is a reference to the ‘Stone of Help’ in the Old Testament, meaning ‘Thus far has the LORD helped us’.  Apparently, the stone in question (a form of altar of remembrance) was called Ebenezer.  I guess if you are going to call a stone anything, it may as well be that!

All joking aside, I thought I would take this opportunity to chart the journey of our little ministry to date, and praise God for helping us thus far!

Summer 07 – saw Jeff and I attending the conference at Caring for Life which sparked a passion for this ministry in both of us.  The wiblog arrived not long after that, together with the search for the form this ministry was to take.  Very soon after, the inspiration came to set up a therapeutic allotment project.  Names for the overall ministry and also the allotment project were provided by Chas and Rain, bringing ‘Sustaining Life’ and ‘Plotting to Improve’ to the world.

Autumn/Winter 07 – I met a Christian allotment holder through work by the name of Jon, who gave advice on selecting the right kind of plot.  After overcoming a little initial resistance from the committee at our chosen site (answered prayer!) we rented our first plot.  Jon and his father-in-law also helped with initial ground clearance at this plot.  I started a horticultural course, and Environmental Chris first entered the picture – proving useful from the outset.  We also started approaching people to become members of our Management Committee.  The year ended on a high with a surprise donation ‘out of the blue’ which enabled us to purchase basic items to get the project off the ground.

I’m going to pause here, as I am aware that this will be an INCREDIBLY long post if I write the full story in one go!  It has excited me to look back at even the first few months of the life of ‘Plotting to Improve’, and I hope it has put a smile on your face too.  Ain’t God good!

Looking forward

Towards the end of last year, we planted Spring bulbs at the plot.  I love Spring bulbs.  They sit underground, doing their dormant bulb thing, then begin to grow when the conditions are appropriate.  This appeals to my sense of allegory.

The plot has seen some growth this last year and even has a number of new people volunteering there these days.  We have made more connections, gained more support and generally expanded our remit.  The plot itself is in its dormant stage at the moment, with the bulbs under the ground and other areas awaiting pruning, tending and sowing.  Yet there is that sense of expectation, that things are not dead so much as not-yet-alive.

I do feel like that generally, about my role at the plot and life in general.  I am looking into gaining funding in order to study counselling, which may well link into my day job and also this allotment ministry.  I would love to eventually be able to go into private practice and thus be able to counsel people from sources such as my current job and also via contact with the plot.   This feels a little like a bulb underground at the moment and I am awaiting the right conditions for something to come about.  I would appreciate it if you would join your prayers with mine for this.

Thanks, again, to all of you for your support over 2010.  Here’s to an exciting and productive 2011! God bless.

Christmas Celebration (shamefully cut and paste from the latest newsletter)

On Saturday 11th December a number of allotment volunteers gathered together for a Christmas meal.  Torafen MIND generously offered the use of the kitchen facilities and dining room in their Wellbeing Centre in Pontypool for this purpose.

P helped Judith by decorating the room and setting up the tables in the dining area.  SB arrived first and made himself comfortable with a welcome cuppa.  The early arrival of A and SA was also no problem as it enabled someone to be sent out for  supplies— in the form of table cloth, festive napkins and the ever necessary  Christmas crackers.  Thanks A!

JO and JA were also invaluable support, helping by shopping for dessert and also in preparing food.  JA made a marvelous job of carving the turkey, whilst SA’s advice on the perfect gravy was most welcome.  Thanks to you all for your help, too.

The Christmas meal featured turnips, cape gooseberries and green tomato chutney from the allotment.  There was no trace of leftovers at the end of the dinner, which is always an excellent indicator of a meal which has been enjoyed  Everybody then lent a hand to make short work of the clearing up and went home well fed and happy.

Prayer requests

Due to techie trouble, I am posting these later than I hoped.  Please pray anyway.  Thanks. 🙂

  • Please join us in thanking God for the two new members of the Management Committee, and also for the sterling work done by the Committee to date.  Please pray for his continued wisdom and direction in our decision making processes.
  • Please ask that the Lord will have his hand upon those who attend the allotment project.  Thank him for the love we have been able to show these vulnerable people and pray that he will continue to keep them safe through his power.
  • Also, please ask that the Lord will protect the work of organisations such as BTCV, Communities First, Keep Wales Tidy and Environment Wales.  They have been of great help to us, both practically and financially, and find themselves under threat of being affected by austerity measures made necessary by the current recession.
  • Praise God for the work of Victory Outreach, some of which runs parallel aspects of our ministry.  Ask the same blessings upon their staff and their young ladies and gents as you would seek for the work of Sustaining Life.
  • Finally, please thank the Lord for the structural work completed on the plot and for the harvest we have taken.  Pray for the remaining constructions and also for a harvest of souls to take place with the harvest of produce.

We appreciate your support and encouragement,.

God bless,

Jeff ‘ n’ Dith

Prayer requests

One of our newer ‘plotters’ has recently hit a very low point, requiring admission to the local psych ward.  Obv I cannot say more than that here, but please be in prayer for her safety and healing.  The Lord will know who you are talking about!

In the same vein, another new regular is having her Disability Living Allowance reviewed soon and is battling mental illness on a number of fronts.  She is a believer for whom I am attempting to obtain some prayer minitsry, with limited success as yet.  Please  be in prayer for her too.

In better news, S (of S and J, mentioned previously) is doing much better in herself.  We are also fairly busy with new people coming quite regularly now.  In addition, I am getting ridiculously excited at the variety of things that we are harvesting at present, first chilli pepper and turnip today (sorry, Jack, but the turnip was insufficiently thingy-shaped, I’ll try to do better!)

A few column inches in the local rag

Page 7 of the South Wales Argus – 14.09.10

Garden wins tidy amount

Work on a Pontypool garden project was given a boost thanks to a Keep Wales Tidy grant of more than £900.

Sustaining Life, based in Trevethin, received £910.23 from the environmental campaigners’ Cleaner Greener Communities Scheme to help with work on a local allotment project, Plotting to Improve.

This provides the chance for people to learn about gardening in a supportive and friendly environment and the money will be used to create a wildlife pond, plant trees and buy waterproof clothing and boots.