I’m Naomi, I’m soon to be 53 years of age and I’m addicted to gardening! No, joking aside, I first started getting into gardening in Sheffield in 2011 after a particularly nasty breakdown in my mental health. At that time I was acting as Manager to a small team of nurses, support workers and an Occupational Therapist (OT) whose job it was to facilitate a smooth and successful discharge for older people with mental health problems, from hospital to home. I had been a nurse in the team for some time and loved it. The details of this period in my life are not for writing about on here, but lets just say that things happen for a reason! I had become unwell in the November 2010 and in January 2011 (after a mere seven years on the waiting list) I was offered my first allotment which was literally a five minute walk from my house! I have honestly never looked back..
Fast forward ten years and here I am! Still gardening but now in Doncaster. Now my (private) allotment is a 20 minute walk away, and I am lucky enough to have a fairly big garden (part of the reason for leaving Sheffield in the first place) where I also grow my produce. We inherited a fabulous high yielding grafted apple tree that produces both eaters and cookers. Anyone who makes preserves will know how important apples are as they provide pectin which will naturally thicken and help jams’ set. This last year has seen my mental health plummet again, only this time I decided that ‘enough is enough.’ My last day working as an RMN was on the 24th April 2021 after 34 years of full time service.
The first time I made jam was in July 2013. It was blackcurrant jam and it tasted amazing! That’s not blowing my own trumpet mind, that the taste of organic fruit! I had only ever eaten shop bought jam at this time as they were the cheapest kind and all I could afford, but realising that I had only used three ingredients (blackcurrants, sugar and lemon juice) and the jam actually tasted better was the start of my new addiction: preserving anything we couldn’t eat!