Debbie is anxious to rekindle something of those lost times, however, and hopes visitors to the hall – which the Trust took over in December 2009 after a national appeal to buy it for the nation – will take time to explore the new community garden and support her team’s work.
“I feel very strongly that kids should be exposed to the sort of outdoor gardening and growing activities we will be doing in the February half-term.
“Many children have no idea where their food comes from, how to grow flowers and vegetables and even how to use tools. Of course, they don’t always get the chance these days to do all these things.
“But through the community garden and the activities we have planned we can give children the chance to find out what it’s all about while at the same time having fun.
“When I was a kid my dad had a huge plot that was turned over to vegetables. We always had far too many and he would load up his wheelbarrow and trundle off up the street to give any excess to the old lady who lived along the way or any other neighbours who wanted them.
“There was a good community feel around that vegetable plot. Something as simple as gardening is a great way of bringing people together, getting them talking, finding out about each other and learning new skills.”
Debbie says gardening – whether for vegetables or flowers – is also therapeutic. “It is good for the soul. Being outdoors always makes me really happy and if I feel like that just imagine the beneficial effects it will have on other people.
“It is about getting outside, growing something, being creative and then being able to eat the fruits of your labour.
“My hope is that people – and especially kids – will be so enthused they will want to go home and grow their own.”
If you are in a local group why not apply for one of Seaton Delaval Hall’s community allotments and help give the walled garden a new lease of life?
Seaton Delaval Hall, The Avenue, Seaton Sluice, Northumberland, NE26 4QR, 0191 237 9100, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ seaton-delaval-hall. Any groups interested in a community allotment, call the hall and ask for Mark Warr.
THE National Trust has a host of food and outdoor-related events planned over the coming weeks:
Seaton Delaval Hall, Gardening and Growing, February 11-19.
Come along and help the dedicated gardening volunteers prepare for spring with a host of foodie and nature-inspired events during half-term week from Making a Bug Box on February 11 and 18 to Growing a Living Salad Box on February 12; Make a Grass Seed Head on February 13; Sow a Wildflower Pot on February 17 and Sow A Multi-Seed Tray on February 19.
All events are free and start at 11am. Normal admission applies. For more details, go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ seaton-delaval-hall for more details or find them on Facebook.
Cragside, Bushcraft Experiences with Wild Harmony – Family Taster Course. Various dates between February and September, 10.30am-4pm
A one-day workshop for all the family that aims to give participants an insight into the world of campcraft and outdoor living skills.
Learn how to make a shelter and fire and all about water and food in a woodland environment.
It costs £20 per person or £15 for NT members. Under-eights go free. To book, call 08442 491 895, or go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside
Cragside, Bushcraft Experiences with Wild Harmony - overnight courses. Various dates between February and April, 12pm-12pm
This adults-only course is an introduction to campcraft and outdoor focusing in on how to set up a wild camp, start a fire and prepare a meal. It costs £65 or £55 for NT members. To book, call 08442 491 895, or go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cragside
Gibside Food and Craft Market, February 4 and 18, 10am-3pm
Seasonal produce and high quality crafts from locals farmers and producers on the first and third Saturday of every month. Enjoy a range of food, drink and craft stalls, plus tastings and cooking demos. Free entry. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside
Gibside Fruit Tree Pruning Masterclass, February 5, 10.30am-3pm
Discover practical tips for pruning fruit trees and bushes while helping the head gardener. Booking essential on 01207 541820. The workshop costs £20 and includes lunch.