Tuesday 27 June 2017

Green fingers at Emmaus Brighton & Hove


In March 2013 ‘The Greenhouse @Emmaus’ – a second hand garden shop and a community allotment – was launched at Emmaus Brighton & Hove by a team of volunteers including, Lyndsey Haskell.

After being introduced to Emmaus by her friend Alice - who bought her a vintage teacup from the community - Lyndsey soon became a regular at the shop in Portslade. “I’m really into secondhand shopping so I couldn’t believe it when I visited the shop for the first time. It’s a beautiful site to explore and has loads of different rooms full of secondhand books, records, clothes and furniture” Lyndsey explains.

It was during a visit to the community that she saw a poster calling for volunteers to help launch The Greenhouse project. “I’d recently quit my job, given up my allotment and was in the process of launching my own business – on online shop called What You Sow selling gifts for gardeners. It meant hours hunched over my computer working non-stop, so the chance to volunteer and get out of the house came at just the right time for me.”

Lyndsey would volunteer once a week and divided her time between The Greenhouse project and helping to gather stories for the blog and to take photos to help publicise the community. “Outside of the community I am a photographer and content marketer so I was really keen to share my skills.”

Now in its fifth year, The Greenhouse project has continued to go from strength to strength thanks to a committed group of companions, staff and volunteers. “The Greenhouse is such a magical space – it’s in the conservatory at the back of the secondhand superstore and is a beautiful room full of plants, pots, books, furniture and bric-a-brac – all themed around the garden. People sometimes gasp with excitement when they walk into it for the first time. That’s the most wonderful feeling – to know that as a community we have created this glorious space together.”

Over the years Lyndsey’s involvement with Emmaus Brighton & Hove has grown and she is now a paid freelancer at the community. “The community are very good at recognising the particular areas that they need a bit of help with and my skills were just what The Greenhouse required in this next phase of the project – an understanding of the garden retail market, a flair for photography and PR, a love of gardening plus the ability to look creatively at the donations we receive.”

“We’re now in our fifth year of The Greenhouse project and having been one of the original volunteers, I’m really proud and so delighted to still be involved.”

This year is a big year for the community as they celebrate their 20th anniversary, and as Lyndsey explains, they have a number of events planned: “We’ve just had our annual Summer Fair on the 24th June and we also held a Spring Fair earlier in the year which was a huge success too. We’re also currently in the middle of a campaign designed to increase garden-themed donations and to make people aware of our garden shop. It’s been really well received and even had a mention in the Sunday Times.”

“My one piece of advice I’d offer to anyone who is interested in volunteering at Emmaus would be: do it as soon as you can! And embrace the weirdness. Emmaus Brighton & Hove consists of such a diverse mixture of people and personalities and I don’t think anyone will mind me saying that most of us are fairly bonkers.”