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Long-term volunteering
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 11th June, 2023

Volunteer for the year ahead


Since the pandemic there have been very few people in residence at Chisholme. These few have been spread thinly over the various areas of responsibility. At some point it will be time for one or two to move on. Numbers notwithstanding, courses and conversations have taken place already this year [2023], garden weeks and a forestry fortnight in which 6000 trees were planted on the Fathill clear-felled area. To the few at Chisholme and to those who come to help as the need arises we are extremely grateful. The garden, the House and estate have been tended with deep care, and the strength of presence is palpable everywhere.

The manner of visiting Chisholme and participating in courses is more immersive as a result, as the distinction between staff and visitors becomes less pronounced. We are all guests in His House, and equally host to the Guest who comes to the door.

'As the lark says in her song:
Often, often, often goes the Christ
In the stranger’s guise.'
(ancient Celtic rune)

We are currently asking for longer-term volunteers who may also be willing to take on particular areas of responsibility, for example – kitchen, garden, estate, housekeeping, office.

Caring for the garden includes the walled garden, the flowers, the polytunnels, growing vegetables for the people at Chisholme with some to share at the local Hawick Market.
This garden has been cared for so many years by so many different people, some of us with no previous gardening experience. So don't hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in giving your time to the garden short or long term.

To apply for this, or any other area you are interested in, please email
secretary@chisholme.org
Tel +44 (0)1450 880 215

All positions at Chisholme are available within the spirit of Equal Opportunities and in fulfilment of the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. Read more here

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Donate a tree
John Hill | Thursday, 19th January, 2023

Sponsor a tree at Chisholme for just £3


COMPLETING THE CIRCLE - REPLANTING THE SHELTER BELT

Donate a Tree
The whole replanting of the shelter belt has only been possible, over the years, through the generous donation of people’s time and energy. If you are unable to join the planting project in person, you can still help by ‘sponsoring a tree’ at a cost of £3.00 per tree which just covers the cost of the tree seedling, stake and shelter.

Donate below by PayPal or with a credit/debit card



The task in 2023
This was the planting of 6000 broadleaved trees and the first of three parcels of woodland to be replanted over the next few years.

History
John Hill our garden and estate adviser writes:

The calm and gentle setting of Chisholme House, its lawns and gardens is only possible because of the encircling ring of sheltering woodland that surrounds the whole estate.

When Chisholme was acquired in 1975, most of this surrounding shelter belt of mainly mature hardwoods was still intact, but was owned by a local Forestry Company and not part of the Chisholme Estate. In the 1980’s this company started to clear-fell the trees, but in 1986 agreed to sell us the land after the mature trees had been felled or where there was younger standing woodland.

Graham Falvey, who was looking after the Estate and Garden at the time, invited friends of Chisholme to contribute to buying these areas of land, and so we acquired this invaluable setting for the jewel of Chisholme, though much of it by then sadly denuded of its original tree cover.

Graham, with some help, valiantly started to replant the clear-felled areas, starting with the Front Clearfell, which stands below the front gate and entrance drive. But there were a lot of trees to plant, and a big boost came in the late 90’s, when grant-aid from the Millennium Forest for Scotland allowed a major replanting over two seasons- 1998 and 1999. During this period, 17,000 trees were planted by over 100 friends and volunteers, covering the exposed, north-facing slopes of Woodcock North, Brae and Fathill West, set above the Borthwick Water, as well as the more placid environments of Whitrig and Churnton at the eastern end of the Chisholme Estate. These two Spring planting events, which I’m sure many people will remember with a warm (?) nostalgia, initiated the annual Forestry Fortnight programme which has continued each Spring at Chisholme for many years.

Since then, several areas which were acquired in 1986 as standing commercial conifer plantations have matured and been replanted - particularly the replanting of Meadburn in 2012 under Ben Young’s guidance.

This year, with the help of Storm Arwen and friends, Fathill East, a Sitka spruce plantation, has been clear felled and left ready for replanting. This is the last piece of the jigsaw and will complete the replanting of the whole shelter belt ring around the heartland of Chisholme.

Fathill East, an area of 3.7ha is immediately next to areas planted in the first Forestry Fortnight in 1998, a wonderful spot, with views overlooking the whole of the Borthwick valley.

Email secretary@chisholme.org to donate and for more information

Image credit: Merijn Schepens

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RUMI 750 – Preparing the ground
Chisholme News | Sunday, 8th January, 2023

2023 is the 750th anniversary of Rumi's Nuptial Night, the completion of his long yearned-for return to the Beloved.


This year is the 750th anniversary of Rumi's Nuptial Night, the completion of his long yearned-for return to the Beloved. The timeless meaning of his life’s journey in love, from love and to love, intimately connects with our own lives and informs of our times. This year is also the 50th anniversary of Diane Cilento and Bulent Rauf’s film ‘Turning’, which explores the evolution in Turkey of the image of the divine feminine, culminating in the iconic person of Rumi himself.

Since Beshara is intimately connected to these realities, both essentially and in their unfolding in time from the unknown, it is proposed that this year at Chisholme should be devoted in part to enquiring into these connections and their deeper meanings.

The proposal thus far is that at Chisholme, five days at the end of each of the months of January, February and March be set aside for conversation and enquiry. The questions under consideration will follow from the understanding that ‘we love what Rumi loves, and what Rumi loves, loves Rumi’. So, we ask that our contemplation be imbued in the very divine love through which the world and humankind comes into existence and through which we return.

Such contemplation cannot be held in isolation from the critical situation that humankind, and the world of nature, is currently facing. Chisholme’s very purpose is the provision of an education ‘that all life is interdependent, as seen in the ecological, economic, cultural and spiritual spheres’ (Memorandum and Articles of the Chisholme Institute). This knowledge is like a light in darkness.

To explore these interdependencies, and to see the present situation clearly, entails working together. Hence this invitation is extended to you now, to come and join in the work of enquiry.

It is envisaged that this enquiry be initial spadework, preparing the ground for an event at Chisholme, around 2-4 September.

CALENDAR EVENTS 2023

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News and an invitation: March 2022
Chisholme News | Monday, 7th March, 2022

You are warmly invited to join an ongoing enquiry through conversation, study and practical work, throughout the coming spring and summer months. We trust that through sitting together and asking, in humility and selfless receptivity, whatever now needs to be known will be made known. Come and participate whenever you can, for a few days, a week or perhaps for longer. Read more...


Dear friends

Thank God, Chisholme has so far remained free from covid throughout the pandemic and has already been receiving visitors for some months. Now that it is becoming possible to travel in comparative safety, and the legal restrictions are lifting, we hope that you too will be able to come to Chisholme sometime in the spring or summer any time from now.

Despite the difficult conditions over the two years, the work of Chisholme has continued throughout. During this time there have been two residential 40-day courses, a 99-day course, a Retreat in the Woods (FNI) week, and a Discovering Unity course, as well as many online Discovering Unity courses for those unable to travel.

Over the past two years there has been a small body of people in residence, in continual service to the place. There is much work to be done, inside and out, in preparation for the future. Chisholme is in service to the future and so consequently are we who serve here. All present are committed students of the school. We have looked on this time as an opportunity to work and study together, to meditate and practice. We have also been engaging in a deep enquiry into our present global circumstances, in the firm ground of One and only one Being in existence. Individuals have come and gone, but the core has remained, committed to facing the Real in constant awareness.

This month, everyone at Chisholme and a few others besides, twenty in all, spent a week reading The 29 Pages together. For some this was the first time, while others had perhaps not read it for many years. It was an extraordinary week, and perhaps unique in that there were no staff to serve it. All the work of the garden and kitchen, house and estate took place seamlessly in between the three sessions daily of reading together in the Mead Hall.

We are confident that the ongoing enquiry through conversation, underpinned by study and work, is an opportunity to see how things are unfolding, both at Chisholme and throughout the world. We trust that through sitting together and asking, in humility and selfless receptivity, whatever needs to be known will be made known.

It is proposed that this conversation will continue throughout the spring and summer, and that this be the main calendar event for the next six months. You are invited to come and participate whenever you can, for a few days, a week or perhaps for longer, depending on your circumstances.

Please contact the Secretary by email via secretary@chisholme.org if you wish to come and join the enquiry and the work.

With love, from all at Chisholme

Photograph by Jay Robinson: Snowdrops on Chisholme Estate

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Ecosystems as Love Processes
Frances Ryan | Tuesday, 22nd October, 2019

The Beshara Lecture
From biological war ideology to understanding reality as alive
Speaker: Andreas Weber
Saturday 16th November 2019, London


Does nature practise love?
Why is our economy still destroying the natural environment?
Is it built on a wrong image of life, where the strongest wins and fitness grants success?

Biological life is never about one winning, but rather an endless celebration of reciprocity.

Ecosystems are ways to organise giving that allow the whole to flourish and the individuals to take what they need. If we understand this desire for mutuality as inbuilt in the living world will we be able to imagine a culture that does not destroy life, but that mimics ecology, enacting what may be seen as a practice of love?

The Beshara Lecture is a lecture held annually, for the furtherance of the knowledge of the unity of existence and its ramifications in areas of human endeavour. Sponsored by the Beshara Trust

The Beshara Lecture: Speaker Andreas Weber, Saturday, 16th November, 2019 from 2pm
Venue: Royal Asiatic Society, Stephensons Way, Kings Cross, London NW1 2HD

See here for an article on this subject by the Andreas Weber, published in the Beshara Magazine

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Seeing something for the very first time...
Jane Clark | Thursday, 29th August, 2019

On Christmas Eve 1968 the first picture ever of our whole planet from ‘outside’ was taken. It has become one of the most powerful symbols of our age.


Jane Clark contemplates the view of Earth from the moon, first captured in the famous photograph ‘Earthrise’ in the following article, published this summer in the Beshara Magazine

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A message for our time
Message from the Hopi Elders | Saturday, 22nd June, 2019

At this time in history we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves.


Message from the Hopi Elders

To my fellow swimmers:
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hang on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the stream, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.

And I say,
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves.
Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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In Memoriam: Graham Ghaffar Falvey
John Hill | Monday, 17th September, 2018

‘If you want something done with excellence, ask Ghaffar, he doesn’t know otherwise.’ Bulent Rauf


Obituary for Graham Ghaffar Falvey

d.12 June 2018, Hanoi, Vietnam

‘If you want something done with excellence, ask Ghaffar, he doesn’t know otherwise.’ Bulent Rauf

Graham was a great man, a real friend, of not so many words but of strong purposeful action.

He was a devoted friend of Chisholme, running the Estate and Garden for ten years (1985-1995). He kept the garden immaculately, while looking after the woodlands during the winter. He set the standard for growing vegetables and flowers at Chisholme, with a keen understanding of the seasons and their needs. He took great pleasure in the process.

Soon after he arrived, the ring of shelter-belt woodland around Chisholme was acquired, largely with Graham’s help and involvement. He set to with a will in the replanting of these big areas of ground. This began with the wind-blasted Front Clearfell, which he planted nearly single-handedly. He successfully navigated the grant application process with the Forestry Commission, which set the scene for the larger forestry plantings with the Millenium Forest for Scotland some years later.

Under Bulent’s guidance he established the beginnings of a wildfowl and domestic fowl collection on the lake, which became a great passion for him.

He worked very, very hard. He enjoyed it. Great gratitude to him.

But Graham’s life was not just work. At Chisholme he met, fell in love and married Wendy, and they spent several happy years together.

During the end of his time at Chisholme, following a visit to Chisholme by Alan Ereira, and the showing of Alan’s film ‘From the Heart of the World’, Graham became passionately interested in the Kogi peoples of Colombia, and their message to humanity. This led him to work as administrator for the Tairona Trust, a small charity to help the Kogi. He made two trips to meet the Kogi in their villages high in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. He clearly felt immensely privileged to make these extraordinary journeys. In Graham’s words: ‘I spent that evening swinging in a hammock in the ‘nuhue’ or ‘world house’ listening to the ‘mamas’ give us messages of greetings and being given our news in return. It was a meeting with a truly dignified and courageous people and I cherish that meeting and another meeting in 1994.’

These journeys and more travels through America and Australia, where he spent time immersed in indigenous cultures, led him, after much soul-searching to plunge Into three years of academia. He read Anthropology and Religious Studies at the University of Wales in Lampeter, taking a first class degree in 1999. He was invited to continue in this academic world, but though he felt he had learnt much and valued his tutors and lectures many of whom became good friends, he felt the academic approach constrictive and took to the road again.

He travelled more in Australia, but returning to the UK, again took up horticulture, spending three summers looking after the gloriously remote gardens of Oransay Priory. This is the only garden on the island of Oronsay. In fact it belongs to the only inhabited house on the island that can only be reached by walking at low tide across a mile of sand from neighbouring Colonsay. A typically remote spot for Graham, but populated with a wealth of wildlife which he loved, and an ancient spiritual history reaching back to Saint Columba, which he much revered.

Graham was always moving into new territory, and during these winter months which he spent in the Borders, he developed an interest in IT which had started with his Tairona Trust work. He became skilled in website design and developed a number of sites for friends and colleagues.

In typical fashion he moved seemlessly on. In 2003, he trained in teaching English as a foreign language, gaining a TESOL certificate, giving him an additional passport to travel where his heart led.

The next thing we knew, he was living and teaching in Hanoi, a situation that seemed to suit him down to the ground. There he finally put down roots and made a career that suited his roving spirit, which he loved, and in which he was much loved in return. He met and very happily married Hop and set up home in Hanoi. Since then we have been treated to the occasional visit to the UK. He twice brought Hop to visit Chisholme and local friends. Though living in the Far East, he hasn’t seemed so far away. The wonderful article that he recently wrote ‘A Thing of Beauty...’ published on line in the Beshara Magazine, shows his depth of vision, and somehow kept him close as a friend.

Graham was a man of great humility and integrity. He came from an RAF background and grew up on the move. Moving was his way of finding a still point. He travelled lightly, while maintaining a consistent and un-erodible commitment to a real spiritual life. He was a faithful friend and a great, great wit.

I met him first in the summer of 1975. He was living in a tiny tent in a cherry orchard in Kent, where he was one of very few who would dare to pick off the gigantic 60ft ladders that reached high into the highest trees. He took that in his singular stride, humbly but with strength. He was always like that. He will be remembered in many sweet ways, and sorely missed. But we can be confident that he will walk this last journey as properly as he did every journey on which he embarked during his life.

John Hill
Sherborne Glos. 2018

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...leaving all the space to God
Frances Ryan | Friday, 13th January, 2017

What is the intimate inner work of a person aspiring to live life in complete awareness?


Osman Fazli, one of the great Ottoman saints of the 17th century, lived in interesting times. His response to the needs of his particular era, informed as it was by his education in the Unity of Existence, may illuminate our own, no less interesting, times. He brought himself to mind and heart during the current ‘Single Vision’ conversation week at Chisholme.

Man does not possess anything else but his sensibilities
as his real organ of intelligence
and without Divine action man cannot even use his memory
which is his sacred treasury of experience acquired long ago. The initiate, the saint, the insani kamil, is he who possesses
the faculty of being able to recognise the true non-existence of his faculties of thought
and his own impotence in putting them in motion. It is he who leaves all the 'space' to God
and who passes all his life in controlling his intimate faithfulness,
in actions, 'thought' or in the acts that materialise them. It is he who prays constantly to God,
even if it be only by a breath or by a movement of the heart,
when he perceives the natural and constant phenomena of thought. Osman Fazlı

To read an account of Osman Fazli's life and times, see here...

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September Newsletter
Chisholme Blog | Friday, 23rd September, 2016

We prepare for winter and look back on the highlights of the summer


Winter is coming

If the sun did not always shine on Chisholme this summer, there was never any shortage of warmth and light here. We have been able to put on a great variety of courses and all the feedback from those on them has been as good as could be wished. Along with satisfied students, there has been a steady stream of visitors and youthful volunteers, and their appreciation of this place has been very real. But now summer is nearly over and the winter period approaches.

Regrettably this winter will not feature the 40-day retreat and the other elements which together replaced the traditional six-month course (i.e., no Turkey trip, no 99-day retreat). Though a number of people showed very real interest there were too few to allow the courses to run. Instead a programme of weekend and week events is being put together.

The first of these will be a conversation week starting on 23 October. With the fee kept very low,we hope many of you will be able to come. More details of this week and other events will be posted on the website shortly.

The 40-day retreat itself will be offered again next winter and also in the early summer – probably starting around mid-May. But before thinking about summer 2017 there are still a couple of events to round off this very memorable one.

Richard Gault
principal@chisholme.org

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Looking ahead

The major event this month comes right at its end - the conversation with Colin Tudge about the future of food and farming. For humanity there is no future without food and there’ll be no food without farming. Right now there are real doubts about the way we farm and feed ourselves. Exploring ways of bringing about change is vital. Chisholme can serve this future in three ways. Firstly, we do indeed offer an ideal venue for conversation. In fact ‘ideal’ is too much of a cliché to do Chisholme justice. This is a very special place. We offer a space for conversation that cannot be found anywhere else. Here those who normally might never easily and freely talk with another, such as organic farmers and representatives of major food processing companies, can do so and find support in doing so. Secondly Colin argues that right food and farming practices can only emerge out of proper understanding of humanity’s relationship with reality. This school enables the search for this understanding. Thirdly, on a more practical level, Chisholme can offer examples of good practice. Ambitious aims perhaps but this is a time to be ambitious.

The Future of food and farming: deepening the conversation
30 September–2 October

Colin Tudge joins a weekend conversation that examines how the future of food and farming can be shaped to lead to a happier future for everyone on the planet. We are delighted that Chris and Denise Walton from Peelham Farm will be joining us, and they have kindly invited participants to visit their organic farm on the Monday.

Winter Wood Week, 8-15 October
Winter is coming – and we need to prepare for it. Would you like to help as a volunteer? The Winter Wood week will be a week spent gathering winter fuel. There’ll be sessions in the wood yard splitting logs for the boiler or chopping hard wood for the wood-fired stoves, such as the one in the Mead Hall. You will also go out on the estate helping gather wind-blown wood. In addition to healthy, outdoor activity there will be opportunities for study, informal conversation and, of course, you will enjoy fine meals. We will also be happy to accept help in the kitchen and house during the week. The usual financial contribution is requested: £10 per day or £6 student concession.

Single vision: the spirit of the starting place, 23–30 October
This will be the first of a series of conversation weeks to be held over the winter. Forty years on and the world has changed. But what are the truly significant changes? What do these changes mean for us? Are we being asked to serve in new ways? How do we do so while remaining ever true to the unchanging starting vision? More details on the website soon. To enable as many people to come as possible, the fee has been set at just £150 (£100 non-residential). Course fees are always charged at less than their actual cost and are subsidised thanks to the generosity of covenanters and donors. If you can afford more than the £150 fee please think of adding a little more if you can. This can help others come to Chisholme in the future.

Devotional Practice Retreat, Saturday 4–Sunday 19 February 2017
A two-week Retreat Course, led by Peter Young
This intensive retreat is for those with some prior experience of reading Ibn 'Arabi and who have an ongoing spiritual practice. Applications are invited both from those who have done this form of retreat (Wazifa retreat) in the past and from those who are new to it. Week 1: Intensive week of study of selections from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Tarjuman al-Ashwaq and the Lawa’ih of Jami, together with daily practice and group conversation. Week 2: A week of private seclusion engaging full-time in devotional practices, as prescribed by Ibn ‘Arabi for his students. These practices are undertaken for the completion of the various levels of the self through the realisation of their unity with the One Absolute Self. The retreat will be limited to ten participants. If you would like to take part please apply to secretary@chisholme.org Cost: £700 fully residential with single room.

And further ahead...

Summer 2017
Missing from this summer’s programme were any specifically family-friendly events. Children should be welcome here. We hope to offer something special for families next year beginning perhaps over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

And looking back: recent courses and events

Discovering Unity Seven-day Retreat: Service and Freedom, 13–20 August
A new course which will probably be offered again. It also suggests similarly structured thematic courses. “Fantastic! At times overwhelming, at times reassuring.” (L)

Discovering Unity, Introductory weekend 19-21 August
“I have had a weekend of true communication.” (O)

Ibn ‘Arabi Study Retreat week 27 August–3 September
Peter Coates led study of the 29 Pages and the chapter on Jonah from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Fusus al Hikam. Students from Australia, Egypt, the USA as well as the UK greatly enjoyed this course which benefited from the experience of Peter Coates. ”An enlightening experience, an affirmation of the value that study provides.” (E)

Retreat in the Woods: Foundations of Natural Intelligence, 27 August–3 September
Chisholme staff were privileged to be invited to coffee in the yurt camp kitchen at the end of this FNI week. On arriving it was immediately clear that the participants had shared a really special experience. This is an extraordinary course. “It was so much more than I could ever imagine or explain.” (V)

Rememoration, Sunday 4 and Monday 5 September
The annual Rememoration for Bulent Rauf took place early this month. Zikr on the Sunday evening was followed by conversation the next morning and a delicious celebratory lunch of roast lamb. Conversation flowed. A question was posed which all were invited to reflect upon: “What is your passion? Theophanic prayer and the revelation of God to man was also mentioned. Importantly, we have been reminded again recently that Bulent never veered from the premise that union with God was the sole purpose for the existence of man and this certainty coloured all that was accomplished through him. Read more>>

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Youth weekend meet-up, Friday 9th to Sunday 11th September
Over the weekend a good number of young people came together for conversation. Along with talking there was walking, wood-oven baked pizzas in (of course) the woods and more. A fuller report next month.

Come to stay or to work

Working at Chisholme
Hannes, our development officer, left a few days ago and our secretary will go at the end of October. Can you fill their shoes? Learn more about working at Chisholme: here http://www.chisholme.org/jobs.html or email info@chisholme.org to find out more.

Weekly programme
Visitors and guests are welcome to join our morning meditation at 7am daily and come for zikr on Thursday evenings at 9.30pm. There is a Fusus reading most Saturday evenings after supper (8.30pm) and another study session on Thursday mornings at 8.30 am. A walk is usually organised after lunch on Sundays.
Please email info@chisholme.org or phone 01450 880 215 to confirm.

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We look forward to welcoming you and to hearing from you

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Bulent Rauf: a personal account
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 4th September, 2016

In a very personal account written in 2012, John Brass pays tribute to this remarkable man.


A man of wisdom, scholar, guide and dear friend to so many, without whose vision and foresight the school at Chisholme would never have come about.

In a very personal account written in 2012, John Brass pays tribute to this remarkable man.

Read the full article here

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Sat 2nd March 2024 19:00 to
Sat 16th March 2024 19:00

Volunteer for tree planting and estate work

 

Fri 29th March 2024 19:00 to
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An introduction

 

Sat 13th April 2024 19:00 to
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Volunteer in the Kitchen Garden

 

Sat 18th May 2024 19:00 to
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Volunteer in the Kitchen Garden

 

Fri 24th May 2024 19:00 to
Mon 27th May 2024 19:00

An introduction

 

Sat 15th June 2024 19:00 to
Sat 22nd June 2024 19:00

More planting and harvesting