SPADEWORK – Tues 11th June

The event: SPADEWORK with Jill Speed 
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 11th June 2019 at 7.30pm

Spadework is a charity in Offham, Kent, which provides life skills, training and work experience for people with learning and other disabilities.

Their aim is to support the trainees, who use their service as they develop their independence and personal skills through social interaction with the community, providing them with the necessary tools to reach their full potential.

Trainees are involved in all aspects of Spadework. They produce the plants that are sold in the Garden Centre and the fruit and vegetables served in the Café and sold in the Farm Shop.

The trainees help to make cakes, jam and chutneys and serve customers in the Café. They also make items in craft and woodwork, which are sold at the Farmers’ Markets and in the Farm Shop. In IT, they produce information that supports the business, including producing labels, plant information sheets and weather updates that help staff and trainees to plan the week.

Spadework provides practical training to develop vocational and life skills;

  • Horticulture: nursery and garden centre work, presenting plants for sale to the general public.
  • Gardening: developing new gardens around the site for customers to come and enjoy.
  • Allotment: growing an amazing range of fruit and vegetables to sell in the Farm Shop and Café. They also sell and deliver Veg Boxes in the local area.
  • Café: making cakes, preparing food, taking food & drink orders and serving customers.
  • Farm Shop: receiving & packing customer orders.
  • Computers – IT sessions to support trainee’s holistic development of speaking, listening, literacy & numeracy.
  • Woodwork: producing articles for sale and general maintenance.
  • Art and Crafts: to sell at the Farm Shop, Garden centre or Farmers’ Markets.


Our June speaker was Jill Speed, Head of Care & Training from Spadework.  This charity, now based in Offham, was founded 35 years ago and looks after adults and young people with learning disabilities.  Originally the idea stemmed from parents in the Hildenborough area wanting to encourage an interest in gardening so the young people had something they could enjoy doing.  They started working in the community and this in turn led to the setting up of a plant nursery.  Spadework now comprises a Garden Centre, glasshouse and onsite café which is open to the public and seats approx. 40 people.  There are currently 111 trainees who take turns to learn every aspect of the running of the organisation. The veg growing area at Spadework is 1 acre, and local restaurants buy produce from them which Spadework deliver themselves. They also make cordial and create items from recycled pallet wood which are sold locally. During the winter they sell logs. They also learn to form fill & even have their own council, so they see first hand how the world of work operates.  Some trainees need 1-1 support, but the majority are able to work independently.