Who Is Clem?
It's an obvious question and one we get asked a lot. Clem is the Christmas baby Vicky and Dunc never got to meet. (S)he took a wrong turning and grew outside the womb... the flower that just rooted in the wrong place.
1 in 5 people over the age of 50 are childless - what a huge pool of care, creativity and experience that represents. More often than not, people find themselves without families of their own because of the lotteries of life and biology rather than because of any active decision they made not to have kids.
Everybody's story is different - people lose their children, families become estranged, or the opportunity to become a mum or dad just doesn't come along.
Childlessness is one of those subjects that just doesn't get talked about - it's personal, it's hard to know what to say, it's easier to gloss over. And life moves on.....but we know through our own experiences that when the world is full of families, there are times when not having a family of your own isn’t easy; and it can be lonely, however strong and resourceful you are.
So we decided to create something.
We’re creating an alternative place for all that care, knowledge and talent to go to really good use.
An alternative place to find a role and be part of a team.
A place to share skills and experience.
A place to help shape our community with kindness.
A place to build friendships.
Clem's Garden stretches to about an acre and sits in the grounds of a beautiful Arts and Crafts building called Briarcourt in Lindley.
Kirklees Council used to own the site and landscaped the garden so that it could be used by people with different levels of physical ability who attended their day centre. There's a car park, outdoor loos, and two great polytunnels, as well as step-free access throughout.
When Vicky and Dunc 'adopted' Briarcourt after losing Clem, the garden had been left to go completely wild for a number of years, but the potential for it to be put to a shared use again was obvious.
With the help of many wonderful individuals and businesses who support our vision for Clem's Garden, we've been working to tame and transform the site into a proper commercial flower-growing plot.
As well as clearing loads of brambles and sedge, we've re-skinned the tattered polytunnels, built composting boxes, and are currently constructing raised beds, which are being filled with 200 tonnes of topsoil and compost! One day, we hope to build a really fabulous potting shed too.
We intend to leave some areas of the garden a little bit wild, so that the birds, insects and hedgehogs can continue to thrive alongside the people and the flowers.
It's a work in progress, but we now grow beautiful, seasonal flowers.
So, Why Flowers?
85-90% of the flowers you see on the high street are imported. The problem with this is that these flowers come with additional environmental costs.
Firstly, there’s the pollution generated by the millions of air and road miles needed to bring these flowers to the UK.
Secondly, these flowers tend to be intensively farmed and refrigerated, using a lot of electricity and water in the process.
Thirdly, pesticide and chemical fertilizer use is widespread. This is bad for wildlife (including the bees needed to pollinate the flowers) and bad for us when these chemicals make their way into our food chain.
It’s also true that there are some flowers that are too delicate to be imported, and some that have had characteristics like beautiful scent bred out of them so that they can stand up to the demands of being shipped around the world.
We are proud to be members of Flowers From the Farm – a national network of flower growers working together to revive the British flower industry and to offer customers a locally-grown alternative to imported flowers.
We're also committed to gardening without the use of chemicals.
We believe that flowers can bring people together.
When people buy flowers for other people, it’s usually to remind them that they care.
We’d like to encourage more of that….people reaching out to other people – not just families, but neighbours and friends too."