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Talks & Posters



Non-academic | Marieke Woensdregt



In my spare time I like to be involved in projects that have to do with community gardens and permaculture. Next to my PhD in Edinburgh I held a post as sessional 'patient engagement' worker with the charity Cyrenians, where I delivered sessions of garden-related activities for people staying at the Astley Ainslie rehabilitation hospital, to breathe new life into their patio gardens. At Astley Ainslie I worked on a ward for patients who had suffered a head injury or stroke, and a ward for patients who had had a limb amputation. Our work on those wards consists of re-designing and re-planting the patio gardens based on patients' own needs and wishes, while at the same time providing patients and their visitors with an opportunity for some nice outdoor (or sometimes indoor) activity.

Before starting this project with the Astley Ainslie Hospital, I was a patient-engagement volunteer with Cyrenians, where I assisted in running sessions of gardening and other nature-based activities for patients who were staying at the acute wards of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Mental Health. Both outside in the Royal Edinburgh Community Garden which is located on the hospital grounds, and inside on the wards, where we brought some of the garden along with us. Watch a video about this project below on the left.

From September to December 2014 I spent three months in Bamenda, Cameroon, where I volunteered for the NGO Better World Cameroon. Better World Cameroon works to promote permaculture practices in rural Cameroon, and to connect modern permaculture knowledge with the traditional practices and know-how of small-scale farmers. For this purpose, Better World Cameroon has a permaculture demonstration site called Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage, near Alegnwi village in the rural region of Bafut, and are setting up a cooperative called Better Coop to sell the farm's produce. In rural Cameroon, small-scale vegetable gardens are usually cultivated by women, for own consumption but also for selling at the local market. These women have a wealth of knowledge of the local plants, soil and climate, and how these interact. Therefore, in cultivating and doing natural building at Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage, Better World Cameroon works together with a local women's group, but also with local builders, Bafut Council, Bafut Palace, natural builder Elke Cole, and the Global Ecovillage Network. Watch a video about the work happening at Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage below on the right. As a volunteer for Better World Cameroon I worked in the office in Bamenda for four days a week doing all kinds of organisational development work, and at the Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage for two days a week learning about permaculture, local farming practices and natural building.