Shieldfield Grows

Shieldfield Grows is a programme of activity that seeks to promote sustainable food production, fair land usage and community flourishing. Developed as a collaboration between Dwellbeing Shieldfield and Shieldfield Art Works. Shieldfield Grows enables people to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers in their homes, on balconies, gardens and allotments. We share this produce with our community. Together we are also developing part of SAW’s garden as a space for growing.

SAW and Dwellbeing have a shared understanding of working in collaboration with communities, both desiring a shared responsibility to care for and maintain these communities, for the flourishing of all people. Growing our own produce is a huge part of community autonomy and resilience especially in times of economic downturn and hardship. We want to be part of this movement which empowers our communities to have good quality, nutritious food for our bodies, minds and souls.

Want to start gardening, but haven’t botany plants? Well this season’s activities with Shieldfield Grows are so unbeleafably exciting that you will wet your plants when you hear them! It’s thyme to start rooting for our community flourishing as we turnip the growing beets. Oh kale yeah! But if you need some peas and quiet it is also a place to lettuce take a break from the hustle and bustle. We are hopeful that the SAW garden will look even more radishing than last year. We have weekly growing sessions, workshops with professionals and a few trips planned.

All are welcome to all Shieldfield Grows activity, whether you are a novice or a seasoned gardener. All activity will take place in the SAW garden unless otherwise stated. Kids under 18 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.

If you would like to be kept updated on the rest of our growing events then please email or to be added to our WhatsApp group or mailing list.

Sage advice: a series of workshops where together we will learn lots of new gardening skills from how to plant trees to how to build your own compost bin. We are inviting professionals in their field to come and share their knowledge with us. You will need to book for these workshops as places are limited. Please book a place by emailing

Regularly weekly growing sessions: come to help us grow and nurture fruit and veg in the SAW garden. It is a great opportunity to learn how to grow seasonally, meet new people from our local community and help Shieldfield flourish together. No need to book. These are always on Wednesday mornings from 10am – 12pm.

Lettuce eat!: Monthly bring and share lunches where we enjoy gathering around a common table and sharing favourite recipes. No need to book. These are usually on the first Wednesday of the month from 12.30 – 1.30pm.

Trips: We also have a series of trips to other community gardens to learn and share knowledge and skills.

See our Spring and Summer 2024 programme below! Updates will be posted here.


Wed 5 June 2024 |Lettuce Eat

It was a cake special today at Lettuce Eat. Tigist made us some Ethiopian coffee which was absolutely delicious and some cakey bread to share with it. Kaltouma made Basbusa, which is a Sudanese coconut syrup cake. Lydia made pistachio and pecan cake which was bright green. Helen made a store cupboard surprise cake. What a decadent treat!

Wed 5 June 2024 |Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we finally got the IBC unit working and have been able to water our plants with rain water for the first time. We are trialing a slower watering process instead of a hose pipe to slow down our work and have a more reflective process. We also planted our some different flower seedlings of cosmos, nasturtiums and helichrysum into our cut flowers bed, which we will be using for a flower arranging workshop later in the summer. We also did some good weeding of the car park verge to tame some of the beasty ones.

Wed 29 May 2024 |Regular growing session

Today we had a lot of lovely new growers and got our hands stuck into lots of tasks. We pricked out some small seedlings and potted them on. We planted out some basil, baby courgettes, tomatoes, 3 different types of kale, a cauliflower and some chard. We also did lots of weed idents and weeded out our main veg bed and our cut flowers bed. We cleared a border to give more room to our baby black currant bushes. We potted on some chillies and we made some fabulous ladybird and worm homes. A good morning’s work!

Wed 22 May 2024 |Regular growing session

Today was a wet wet wet day! But it didn’t defeat us. We planted out some runner beans to encourage the warmer weather along.

Thur 16 May 2024 |Trip to Gibside Community Farm

Today we visited Gibside Community Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, which is a crop sharing scheme that shares the risks and rewards of producing food between the farmer and the consumers. It was established as a members cooperative Community Interest Company (CIC), in 2013. They began in the walled garden at Gibside National Trust and in 2017 moved to a 14 acre field near Burnopfield leased to us by Gibside National Trust estate.

It was such an interesting trip and we learnt a lot so here are just a few takeaways:

The long field shapes reminded Kaltouma of growing in Sudan.

They found out what condition the soil might have been in by looking at maps from years ago around how the area had previously been used.

Not much compost is created as they leave the tops and bottoms in situ after harvesting to keep nutrients in the soil.

Agroforestry is how farming used to be with no distinction between growing trees, shrubs and crops – where they are beneficial for each other. Bringing those two things together has longer term thinking in mind

At Gibside National Trust the trees in the walled garden were dwarfed by planting them on a stone to restrict growth because that was before you had root stock.

Wed 15 May 2024 |Regular growing session

Today we weeded the patio with our new weeding tool, constructed a climbing frame for the purple peas and moved them into their new home, did a weed ident in our big bed and found around 6 different weeds growing, planted some marigolds, tidied up some of our adopt a plot beds, pruned some scraggly rose bushes and weeded the entrance path. What a productive day!

Tue 14 May 2024 |Little Growers

For our first Little Growers session everyone planted two sunflowers each and we are having a competition to see who’s will grow the tallest. We also potted on some courgette seedlings and enjoyed drawing the beautiful tulips in the garden (although some of the paper got a bit damp in the rain, adding to the watercolour feel.)

Thur 09 May 2024 |Sage Advice: Companion Planting

Today we learnt all about which plants are friends. Companion planting maintains a natural balance in your garden by growing plants together that are mutually beneficial. They can aid pollination, prevent disease, control pets, provide physical support, provide shade and improve soil fertility. Some examples are marigold and tomatoes, sage and brassicas, and the three sisters (corn for height, beans to fix nitrogen and squash to shade roots). We made our own square foot garden plan and then planted up some marigolds and nasturtium to take home. Thanks to Mike from Jesmond Gardens who led such a fantastic session!

Wed 08 May 2024 |Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we finished the edging, watered, tidied the grass around the beds, planted some black currant bushes and pricked out some of our seedlings to pot them on. It was a balmy 18 degrees!

Wed 01 May 2024 |Lettuce Eat

Lettuce Eat specials today: lentil soup with a bit of a kick, veggie tart, Big River bakery stottie, smoked sweet potatoes and green pepper & tomato salsa. It was a wonderful time of community, chat, story telling and sharing.

Wed 01 May 2024 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we edged a border with some donated bricks ready to house some fruit bushes, we weeded the patio, path and two big beds and we got a bit too carried away with the watering and two of us got a bit wet. We are very thankful to God for the warmer weather!

Wed 24 April 2024 | Regular growing session

Today we sowed two types of carrots (orange and yellow), two types of beetroot (purple and yellow), three types of potatoes (purple and normal), coriander, parsley, dill, chives, marigold and radish. We also cleared out some very dry pots which had been under the pergola and had not been watered – we will remember to water them this year! And we cleared a border or little tree seedlings to make way for some blackcurrant bushes that will go in next week. Our windowsill seedlings are growing wonderfully and we are excited to plant them outside in a few weeks.

Wed 17 April 2024 | Trip to Dilston Physic Garden

Dilston is not just a garden to visit, but a living physic garden. As a charity they are devoted to educating on the scientific research into, and the therapeutic use of, medicinal plants for health, medicine, and mental well-being. We learnt a lot on our tour of the garden with Elaine and had a wonderful time exploring the different plants and their medicinal qualities.

Wed 10 April 2024 | Regular Growing Workshop

Today at Shieldfield Grows we sowed lots and lots of seeds and are eagerly waiting to see what comes up first. We sowed borlotti beans, purple peas, green and yellow courgettes, cosmos, helichrysum, rudbeckia, yarrow, runner beans, nasturtium, blue and pink cornflowers and nigella seeds.

Wed 21 March 2024 | Sage Advice: Pruning and Grafting

Today we had the privilege of being taught by Tony, who is an expert in fruit trees. Firstly, he showed us how to prune our apple trees so that they form a good open shape and produce as much fruit as possible. We all had a go at seeing if we could prune a tree in pairs. Then he showed us how to graft fruit trees and we each had a go at grafting our own. It was very informative and everyone had a wonderful time and learnt a lot!

Thur 7 March 2024 | Trip to Moss Peteral

Today – as part of our Shieldfield Grows trips organized by SAW, @newbridgeproject and @dwellbeingshieldfield – we visited Moss Peteral an 1000 acre farm in the Northumberland National Park. Sue explained the history of the farm, how it is an internationally recognized site of wetland importance, SSSI and a Northumberland Trust wildlife reserve. We had fun learning how to walk over the bogs, learning about snecks and shielings and measuring the depth of the bog to see how old it was. Peat bogs grow at 1mm per year so every metre of depth in the bog has taken 1000 years to grow. The part we measured was 4.5 metres deep which makes it 4500 years old! The deepest part of the bog on the farm is 8m! Sue explained how they farm cattle and sheep and after our walk we tried some of their beef for lunch lovingly cooked by Alan. What hospitable and wonderful hosts and what a fantastic trip! We are looking forward to our upcoming community garden trips.

Wed 6 March 2024 | Planning the growing season

Today we planned our growing season here at SAW. We are following the veg in one bed technique as learned from Huw Richard’s book. We have split our big plot into 10 sections and planned what we will grow in each section over the year. This allows for successional growing and hopefully will enable us to have a big harvest! We will be growing beetroot, coriander, dill, parsley, Ethiopian basil, garlic, kale, lettuce, spring onions, potatoes, chard, purple peas, borlotti beans, tomatillo, rocket, green broccoli, sweet peas and carrots.

We are also going to be starting our Little Growers group and have planned to grow with them, courgette, squash, sunflowers, nasturtium, peas, runner beans and mangetout.

Wed 7 February 2024 | Lettuce Eat

Yesterday we enjoyed our Lettuce Eat community lunch. The feast included guacamole, lentil soup, stotties, veggie surprise, bulgar wheat salad, potato salad, veggie rice, Scots Pine honey and a winter orange spice drink. It was wonderful to taste so much variety!

Wed 10 January 2024 | Lettuce Eat

What a feast at Lettuce Eat! Thank you to all the chefs who brought something tasty to eat and for those who reminded their family members to cook!


Wed 25 October 2023 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we put the veg beds to bed for the winter. We cleared out the left over runner beans, chard, tomatoes and squash and chopped it all up for our new compost bins. We also harvested lots more Jerusalem artichoke to hand out to our community chefs for Lettuce eat next week. Another year, another great growing season!

Wed 18 October 2023 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we emptied the compost bin, cut down all the woody bits, added a new compartment so we now have 3 bays, mixed and refilled one and a bit bays. What a fantastic team effort! We also managed to harvest lots of Jerusalem artichoke that was growing out of the compost so we might enjoy some soup later on. It is amazing what a morning of garden labour does for your spirits. I (Lydia) often spend a long time sat behind a screen on admin and organisational tasks. The fresh air, physicality, team work and completion of building a compost bin really brought a sense of community achievement and fresh oxygen to my heart and head. Top draw!

Wed 11 October 2023 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we planted about 500 different bulbs to enjoy daffodils, tulips and alliums in the spring. We also cut back some lavender and rosemary, cleared the courgettes, harvested some runner beans and green tomatoes and have a light water. We are looking forward to the riot of colour in the spring when lo else seems cold and dark, hope springs up in new life.

Wed 4 October 2023 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we weeded, watered and cut back lots of grass. And then had a wonderful feast as part of Lettuce Eat with Sudanese, Ethiopian and English food. What a lovely morning!

Wed 27 September 2023 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we cut back the lavender and rosemary and made bundles to give away at our harvest festival on Saturday. We also harvested rubber beans, beetroot, courgette and parsley to give to our Shieldfield chefs for dishes for the festival too.

Wed 20 September 2023 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we dug out a lot of grass that was spreading rampantly in the flower verges and then planted in a selection of summer and autumn flowering perennials and grasses. We are working with the beds to try a new format of prairie style planting, keeping some of the plants that have popped up but curating slightly to allow for the perennials and trees to thrive. It is a good balance of letting the wild come in and caring for the plants that need more space to breath.

Wed 13 September 2023 | Regular growing session

Today at Shieldfield Grows we dug up some rampant artichoke, edged some grass, pruned some perennials, sowed some green manure to enrich our soil, watered, saved some flower seeds and stacked yet more onto our burgeoning compost heap (next week we might try and build a third tier for it). It was a glorious golden late summer morning and much fun and calm was had by all.

Wed 30 August 2023 | Regular growing session

Today we cleared half of the dead wild flowers from our wild borders. We shook them to release the seeds for next year’s blooms. We will need to clear some of the more invasive grass from the borders to finish job before we can plant in some new perennials. We also trimmed the grass around the veg beds which now looks very tidy and orderly; watered all the plants; harvested courgette, beetroot, carrot, parsley, lavender, sage, rosemary, lettuce; and saved some calendula seeds for sowing next year.

Wed 23 August 2023 | Regular growing session

Today we harvested lettuce, beetroot, parsley, courgettes, carrots and beans. we also tidied and watered the beds.

Thur 17 August 2023 | Sage Advice: It’s go thyme!

Today Kaltouma taught us about 5 different types of herbs and how we use and dry them (especially outside and in the oven). We also had some time to draw the herbs we were learning about.

Wed 16 August 2023 | Weeding, harvesting and cutting

Today we weeded the garden and cut ripe vegetables, carrots, beetroot, beans and we also cut grass. It was a good morning with lots of hard work and good conversation.

Wed 9 August 2023 | Trip around the Ouseburn with the Ouseburn Trust and a visit to Wild Roots community allotment

Shieldfield Grows, TopSoil and For Solidarity are working together to organise a series of trips over the next few months to community gardens. The third trip was with our neighbours in the Ouseburn – The Ouseburn Trust and Wild Roots from 10am to 2pm..

The Ouseburn Trust is a charity supporting the heritage, environment, buildings and people of the Lower Ouseburn Valley. We look after the green spaces and the river from the southern edge of City Stadium down to where the Ouseburn meets the Tyne. We have woodlands, meadows, mown grass, areas of wild scrub, planted beds and lots of other green in-between, and our hope is for all of these spaces to be loved by people and by wildlife.

Wild Roots is a community wildlife garden in Ouseburn. It’s for everyone and everyone is welcome to take part. The idea is to help nature thrive by creating habitats, growing food, learning about nature and in the process, rediscover our wild roots.

We had a wonderful time exploring all of the growing and wild spaces around the Ouseburn, from orchards to ponds to secret allotments to wide open grass spaces to floral planters with mixes of planted and naturally occurring flora. It was also lovely to see Wild Roots community wildlife garden and hear about their ethos of developing the space with recycled and reused materials. Very inspiring to learn how to use what we have to create something beautiful and welcoming for nature and our local communities.

Wed 2 August 2023 | Wet wet wet

Today the weather is wonderful because the rain is helping the garden. So we harvested a few carrots and cleared some old courgette leaves. We decided to finish early and sit inside to dry off. We are looking forward to Lettuce Eat today for lunch.

Wed 19 July 2023 | Planting flowers, harvesting courgettes, clearing soil

Today at Shieldfield Grows we planted some new flowers in our raised flower beds to bring joy and colour to our back entrance. We also sorted our big pile of soil into tidy big bags. We harvested about 12 courgettes and shared them between the growers. We also cleared a lot of grass from around our productive growing area beds and gave all our tools a good clean. A very productive morning.

Wed 12 July 2023 | The mega community clear!

Today at Shieldfield Grows we had a mega weeding session clearing budleja from our car park and invasive species from our beds (to give the other plants a chance to flourish), we cleared bolted lettuce and sowed beetroot in its place and we harvested our very first blackcurrants. We also learnt how to prune rose bushes that had become like triffids.

Tue 11 July 2023 | Visiting Scotswood Garden

We had a wonderful time Scotswood garden today. Thank you so much for having us and showing your wonderful garden. It is an inspiring place with wonderfully passionate people.

Wed 5 July 2023 | Installing a wormery and Lettuce Eat

Today we had help from Northumbria University to install a wormery. We are using a Subpod®, which is an in-garden compost system that works with nature, using worms and microbes to compost organic waste without the odours, vermin, mess and hard work of traditional composting. We are excited to see how the wormery works and look forward to the rich compost it will create to nourish our veg beds!

We also enjoyed our monthly Lettuce Eat lunch today. We had distributed potatoes harvested from the SAW garden to our community chefs and they cooked some delicious dishes with them. Who knew you could make such a variety of food with such a humble ingredient!

Wed 28 June 2023 | Care and nurture

Today we harvested a bumper crop of potatoes and giant radish, sowed purple sprouting broccoli and salad, planted a donated blackcurrant bush, and weeded the patio. Not bad for a morning’s work!

Wed 21 June 2023 | Care and nurture

Today we watered the garden, cut back some lavender that was intruding on the path and harvested some beautiful crimson chard.

Wed 14 June 2023 | Trip to Comfrey Project

Today we went with @newbridgeproject and @dwellbeingshieldfield to visit @comfreyproject We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the garden and lunch together and hearing about Bees of Bensham. What a wonderful community!

Thur 1 June 2023 | Sage Advice: How to make a bird feeder?

Today Tim (SAW Team Player) taught us how to make willow bird feeders. It was a great time of laughter, creativity and thinking about how to make a home for our feathered friends.

Wed 31 May 2023 | Watering, tidying, harvesting

Today we watered the garden, cut the grass around the veg beds to tidy them up, thinned out the chard and harvested some big lettuce leaves and some lettuce that had bolted. A very chill day for the gardening group. Candy also made a beautiful arrangement of flowers from our wildflower banks.

Wed 24 May 2023 | Watering, weeding, planting, sowing

Today at Shieldfield Grows we watered all of our crops after a weekend of sunshine; we weeded the patio area to get it looking lovely; we planted out our runner beans and courgette after allowing them to harden off; we sowed chive and spinach seeds; we weeded some borders ready for tomatoes to go in next week and we weeded the path out the front of the gallery. The kids had a really good time this week and enjoyed getting involved in digging and exploring.

Wed 17 May 2023 | Sowing, weeding and compost sorting

Today at Shieldfield Grows we sowed some purple sprouting broccoli, weeded the entrance borders (and learnt how to ID some different weeds), sorted some homemade compost with our new sieve and toped the veg beds with the nutritious result, thinned out the beetroot, and harvested some cut and come again lettuce. Two of our youngest growers had great fun investigating all the creepy crawlies in the compost with lots of wriggling worms and woodlice.

Wed 3 May 2023 | Garden care

Today at Shieldfield Grows we watered our whole garden (despite being promised some rain it has been pretty dry!) and weeded the big river path. And then we enjoyed our first Lettuce Eat of the year – a bring and share for our growers. We ate courgette fritters, a big Sudanese rice dish, hummus, lentil soup, Ethiopian bread, rice pudding and coconut cake. It was a feast! We even enjoyed the vegan “honey” (which is legally called syrup) that was made from the dandelions we picked last week. We were joined by a lovely group from @bestofbensham who are doing a project ‘Bees of Bensham’. The sun was shining and the day was good!

Wed 26 April 2023 | Dandelion hunt

Today we weeded out all of the dandelions, digging them up from their roots. We left some in the grass for the pollinators, but because these flowers spread like wildfire we took out the majority. We are going to try and make honey from the dandelions so keep an eye out for how this goes. We also spent some time tidying around the veg beds, cutting the long grass. And we moved a lot of soil ready for pots and planting.

Wed 19 April 2023 | Sowing and weeding

Today we sowed wildflowers in situ in our new flower beds, it was a mix of sunflowers, nasturtiums, wildflower mix, Calendula, chives and chamomile. We also planted out some coriander and got stuck in on weeding our herb pots, the large patio and the entrance path.

Thur 13 April 2023 | Building a fedge

Today we built a fedge to provide both a separation from the working garden and the rest of the SAW community garden space and also to provide a beautiful entrance when our growers come and grow veg. Thank you to all those who helped! We are very excited to see the willow root, grow and bush out the fence.

Wed 12 April 2023 | Sowing seeds

Today we planted carrots and chard in the big planter. We sowed courgette, leek, tomato and rubber bean seeds in pots to go on the windowsill. Candy also showed us her amazing sweet potato that she grew at home. It’s too cold for it at the moment outside but we will plant it out in may

Thur 16 March 2023 | Sowing crops

We sowed our first crops of potato, beetroot, lettuce and spinach following our growing plan. We have decided to trial different types of early potatoes this year including Swift, Sharpes Express and Charlotte. We are also trying two different types of beetroot including Boltardy and Touchstone Gold. This is a good way to see what does best in our climate and growing conditions. The growers were already excited about eating the tatties with butter or spicing it up with chilli and coriander. The kids had fun finding lots of worms, as our soil is super healthy! And we learnt how to space our crops and dig a trench for certain seeds.

Thur 23 Feb 2023 // Soup, growing plans and prepping beds

Today we ate a delicious lentil soup made by Kaltouma, made a plan for our big bed for growing from March – November this year. Last year we followed Huw Richards’ veg in one bed book but this year we have come up with our own rotation and plan. It has been great to see us grow as a group and understand when things are sown and harvested and how succession growing works. We also topped up our beds with fresh soil and protected our tree young tree bases with bark as a mulch.


Fri 18 November 2022 | Trip to Birkheads Secret Garden

Our Shieldfield Growers took a trip to Birkheads Secret Garden to learn how to make hard wood cuttings. We had a wonderful time looking around the garden and the beautiful winter delights of nature and then Christine, head gardener, taught us about the different plants we could use for these type of cuttings. We all took a full pot home with us and are hoping we get a good crop for planting out next year in the SAW garden.

Wed 9 November 2022 | Raking leaves, turning compost, clearing beds

Today during Shieldfield Grows today we raked up and cleared all the leaves that have fallen and bagged them up to make some leaf mould (that should be ready in 2 years – gardening is a slow but rewarding process). We also turned the compost bin in order to help the waste rot down and to mix in some more air into the system. We saved some coriander seeds for the Shieldfield seed bank. This was our last Wednesday morning group session for the year but we are excited for our winter workshop and meals programme. Find out more above.

Wed 2 November 2022 | Harvesting and cold frame upgrades

Today we added cardboard and wood chip to the base of our cold frames to help suppress the weeds and create nice little home for our overwintering plants. We also harvested all of our winter lettuces and shared them in the local cafe. We had some new faces today and it was lovely to welcome them into our Shieldfield Growers community.

Wed 26 October 2022 | Ken’s last day!

It was Ken’s last day today. Ken has been the most wonderful Community Bee! She is someone who cares so deeply for her community and each individual that she meets – her heart overflows to those around her. She has a catching laugh that makes you smile and join with the joy. She has constantly cared for our little garden at SAW and has spread that care to the gardens and public spaces of our Shieldfield Community. It has been a true joy to work with such a wonderful human being and this is our prayer (taken from ‘Every Moment Holy’ by Douglas Kaine McKelvey) for Ken as she finishes in her official role as community bee; although we know she will keep connecting, caring and cross pollinating in Shieldfield as that is of her heart!

Thank you Lord that you created Ken to be ever mindful of others, as someone who tends and encourages the stories of those around her by friendship, thoughtfulness and conversation, affirming and sharpening and amplifying other’s good works.

O Creator who calls forth life, may this ground and Ken’s labours here invested, yield good provision for the nourishing of both body and soul.

May her acts of service and creation be met and multiplied by the mysterious working of Your Spirit who weaves all things together toward a redemption more good and glorious than we yet have eyes to see, or courage to hope for.

Fri 21 October 2022 | Trip to Clennell’s Wood with Mike Hunter

Visiting @clennellswood with some of our adopt a plot growers. It was wonderful to spend time learning about the different trees and wildlife that inhabit the wood that has stood for hundreds of years. Each part held a different feel and all held a sense of wonder! Thanks Mike for sharing your passion and knowledge with us!

Wed 19 October 2022 | Planting spring bulbs and a presentation on Clennell’s Wood by Mike Hunter

Today we planted hundreds of daffodil, tulip and allium bulbs. We learnt how deep and what direction you need to plant a bulb. We used a tool that plugged a cake of soil from the ground to make space for a hidden bulb below. The spring is going to be glorious as no doubt we will have forgotten about these hidden treasures that will burst into life and bring much colour and tranquillity to SAW garden. Mike Hunter also shared his thoughts on managing and stewards Clennell’s Wood, an ancient oak wood in Northumberland. He read some magnificent excerpts from his book that brought to life the wood in it’ different seasons. We would highly recommend buying his book and be transported to the wood.

Wed 12 October 2022 | Grass, seed saving, woodchip

At Shieldfield Grows today we sheared the grass around the planters with a lot of help carrying it to the compost bin from two little helpers, saved some marigold seeds, and also topped up our kids area with wood chips. These were from a cherry tree that was sadly cut down in Shieldfield today and our friends @newbridgeproject helped us save some of the chip to be put back into the Shieldfield community. We pray that it will bring nutrients and enjoyment here whilst recognizing the sadness of its loss in its tree form!

Sat 8 October 2022 | HARVEST FESTIVAL

Check out what we got up to here!

5 October 2022 |Harvesting, weeding

Today at Shieldfield Grows we harvested lots of fresh produce ready for our harvest festival in Saturday. The cauliflower is going to be made into fried rice, the celery is being used in a noodle dish, the winter lettuce will make a fresh salad, the kale is being roasted with oil, garlic and ginger and the mini pumpkins will be used in a cake. We are very excited to see what other delicious dishes people bring!

28 September 2022 |Harvesting, clearing, sowing

Today at Shieldfield Grows we harvested the end of the runner beans, some carrots, winter lettuce, kale, two mini squash and excitingly our first ever sweet corn. We are hoping to make something delicious for our Harvest Festival that’s on next Saturday 8th October, 12-2pm. We also sowed some winter spinach and some garlic today. There is still growing to be done even with the colder weather.

21 September 2022 |Lavender harvest and Shieldfield Grows reflection

We harvested all of the lavender today ready to bundle it up and dry it in one of our colleagues garages. We are hoping to organise some workshops to learn how to make lavender tea and to craft some lavender pouches to give as Christmas gifts. Watch this space! We also spent some time reflecting with our growers about how they have found this growing year and what they would like to learn next year. We have some exciting plans afoot!

14 September 2022 |Sage Advice: What do I do with my gross airy storage?!

Our ‘Sage Advice: What do I do with my gross airy storage?’ workshop was a hit! Sabina led us through preserving using vinegars and salt water, how to make our own balms from herbs grown in the SAW garden and how to dry herbs by hanging. We made lots of beautifully colourful pickled jars and are excited to share them at our Harvest Festival next month.

7th September 2022 | Harvesting, planting, sowing, weeding

Today at Shieldfield Grows we changed our flower boxes and planted in some beautiful violas. It’s amazing how such a delicate flower can survive the winter! We also harvested many runner beans and peas, sowed some mustard leave seeds, transplanted some chard and tidied up our planters.

31 August 2022 | Harvesting, dividing, transporting, weeding

Today during Shieldfield Grows we divided some baby strawberry plants to give away, harvested some carrots and tomatoes, transported our artichokes to a new home and weeded the entrance path. A good days work!

24 August 2022 | Harvesting

Today at Shieldfield Grows we harvested a rainbow of fresh produce including chard, golden and purple beetroot, runner beans, carrots and tomatoes. We will keep you posted as to what feasts our growers make with their haul!

10 August 2022 | Lettuce Eat with the Shieldfield Youth Group

Today Shieldfield Youth Group joined us as part of Lettuce Eat. They were fantastic! We made posters to welcome people to lunch; we learnt lots about different types of vegetables; we harvested some potatoes together; we made a selection of sandwiches using bread from the local bakery and a selection of salads using produce from our garden including potatoes, chard, beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs. We then welcomed other community members to come and eat with us. It was an absolute blast!

3 August 2022 | Sowing, growing, weeding, harvesting

Today we harvested a good crop of chard; sowed carrots, kohl rabi and more chard; transplanting coriander; saved some poppy and sage seeds; weeded a lot of the public pathway that runs alongside our garden; and watered watered watered.

27 July 2022 | Sowing, growing, weeding, harvesting

Today at Shieldfield Grows we cleared out our final broad beans (which we have kept some seeds back to dry and save) and transplanted kale in its place; we sowed some turnip seeds (winter veg yay!!); harvested some mega courgettes; ate some tiny thinned out carrots; dreamed up chard recipes; and contemplated global warming as we stood among the scorched wild flower banks (which are still very graceful with their seed heads). We are using @huwsgarden veg in one bed book with a few additions because we wanted to try some corn and fennel. Still praying for more rain!!!

29 June 2022 | Sowing, growing, weeding, harvesting

Today at Shieldfield Grows we had fun drying out a tarpaulin and making a weaved fence for our peas to grow up. Thank you God for bringing the rain showers so we didn’t need to hand water everything! We also harvested some lettuce and a few strawberries.

22 June 2022 | Sowing, growing, weeding, harvesting

Today at our Shieldfield Grows session we planted corn, fennel, courgettes, artichoke, tomatoes and cauliflower. We also harvested the rest of the garlic and onions that were not harvested at the solstice and the mangetout. The garden got a big water as it has been so sunny and dry lately. The wild flowers are looking fantastic!

8 June 2022 | Sowing, growing, weeding, harvesting

Today we celebrated the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun is at its peak and our plants grow basking in the light of a Geordie summer. We enjoyed food and drinks, fun, readings and music and harvested the garlic and onions which we planted on the Winter Solstice.

This was a family friendly event with activities for children organised by Shieldfield Youth Programme and featuring contributions from members of SAW’s Mixing Bowl.

8 June 2022 | Sowing, growing, weeding, harvesting

Today at our Shieldfield Grows session we harvested lettuce and radish to enjoy for our lunches, constructed a wigwam out of different sized bamboo for our runner beans, sowed beetroot and generally maintained the garden. It rained overnight so we were saved from watering the garden – thanks God for your sweet provision!

1 June 2022 | Sage Advice: Born to Bee Wild

We had a buzzing time at our Born to Bee Wild workshop today. Andy and Francesca from Northumbria university came to share about all the different types pollinators and why they are important. Did you know that they account for £153 billion of our economy every year – helping pollinate most of the food that we eat. We then went and explored the SAW garden to find some of our buzzing friends who were loving the nepeta! We have a B-Lines walk on Saturday 11th that will go further out into the community to see where our pollinators are flying.

25 May 2022 | Sowing, growing, weeding, harvesting

Today, as part of Shieldfield Grows, we harvested lots of radish and lettuce, tied in our peas and broad beans, weeded, sowed coriander, dill, fennel, basil and chives, and planted out some tomatoes. We have set the growers the challenge of coming up with a new Platinum Jubilee dish with the harvest from today. Let’s see what they make!

18 May 2022 | Visit to Best of Bensham Community Allotment

We had a great visit to the community garden plot 42 that’s part of @bestofbensham. Ian kindly talked about the site and gave us a wonderful tour of all that they are growing. It is such a great project and we loved learning about it. Hopefully we can find some crossovers with our little growers plot ok Shieldfield.

11 May 2022 | Sowing, planting, watering

At Shieldfield Grows today we sowed dwarf french beans, kale and rainbow chard; planted on sunflowers; watered the whole garden; tied in the pies; and made a soil base for the cold frames as the grass was going wild! It was lovely to see so many incredible women working together to flourish the garden. We also harvested some garlic leaves, radish and lettuce to share out between us and instead of cooking together for Lettuce Eat we decided to photograph what we make with the produce to share our recipe ideas. Keep an eye out for those!

4 May 2022 | Sage Advice: Hydroponics workshop

Thank you so much Aidan from @fyto_ltd (FYTO said phonetically and not like an acronym) for sharing your knowledge and passion about locally produced and nutritious food from hydroponics. We had a great session thinking about how food is usually produced in monocultures and shipped from abroad so that we can eat out of season and how that is damaging for the planet. We thought about how hydroponics allows us to grow locally all year round so we can cut down our travelling miles for food and provide fresh and nutritious edibles. A fascinating talk and great to taste some of the produce. Check out FYTO and all the great work they are doing.

27 April 2022 | Watering, sowing

Today we planted on our broad beans, peas and cauliflower; sowed our runner bean seeds; watered all our plants; cut down all of the long grass around the planters; and started to use our new compost bin. We had a fabulous team of Shieldfield Growers today and enjoyed the work together. And we managed to harvest our first tiny radish!

20 April 2022 | Sage Advice: Building planters and compost bins

Joe Shaw helped us build three planters for our patio area which we hope to plant with herbs that will be easy to pick and maintain at a height. We also built 2 compost bins with spare pallets – a free and easy way to make your own compost bin.

13 April 2022 | Watering, sowing, fixing

Today we sowed marigolds to add a splash of colour to our planting; we covered a patch of bare soil in the front of the garden with spare grass turfs; and we sowed many sunflower seeds, which we had saved from our beautiful sunflowers from last year.

6 April 2022 | Watering, sowing, fixing

We continued to train members up in using the extendible hose pipe. We sowed our second row of radishes so that we have a successional crop. We tried to fix the polytunnel, which seems beyond repair so we may switch to using cold frames for early season sowing.

30 March 2022 | Watering in the snow

We learnt how to use our new extendible hose today but after getting rather wet (as Ken started a water fight) it started to snow rather heavily and we called it a day.

23 March 2022 | Sowing

The first day of Shieldfield Grows 2022 with sowing today. We sowed broad beans, radish, lettuce and potatoes. We also planted some raspberry canes, a blackcurrant bush and two gooseberry bushes. We are using Huw Richards book veg in one bed this year and hoping to learn about succession planting.

3 November 2021 | Growing

This week in the SAW garden we have picked all the green tomatoes that didn’t ripen on the vine and shared them out to our growing community. We are looking forward to seeing what people make with them. I know I am keen to make some green tomato chutney! 

We also planted some garlic and onion bulbs bought from @thegraingermarket and will keep an eye on their growth over the winter months. 

Our cabbages are getting bigger too but we still need to wait for the middles to harden some more. 

Even as winter approaches there is much to be getting on with in the garden! 

9 October 2021 | Shieldfield Seasonal Recipe Zine

Covid-19 shed light on the fragility of the UK’s food supply chains, so in response Dwellbeing and SAW organised a collective growing effort in the Shieldfield neighbourhood. Shieldfield Grows enabled people to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs in their homes, on balconies, gardens and allotments. Then in 2021 we grew the project (pun very much intended) to include seven planters in the SAW garden, which have flourished with community care. 

Growing our own produce is a huge part of community autonomy and resilience especially in times of economic downturn and hardship. We want to be part of this movement which empowers our communities to have good quality, nutritious food for our bodies, minds and souls. But there is no point growing our own food if we don’t know what to do with it. So we are creating a zine that seeks to do just that. We are celebrating both our beautiful homegrown seasonal food and the incredible variety of food cultures and cooks we have in Shieldfield, by gathering recipes from our local community. 

Seasonal food is so important as it keeps in step with our natural local seasons, it reduces food miles, it tastes so much fresher and it is far more sustainable. Eating seasonally helps us to care for both people and planet. But we are often very out of tune with what grows when. So in order to help us practice cooking seasonally we have enlisted chef, creative and advocate for sustainable food Sam Cooper. He collaborates with Huw Richards (​​author, permaculturalist and YouTuber) to celebrate nutritious, seasonal and regenerative food by sharing original recipes, thoughts and other inspirational food projects. Find out more about their work and explore more seasonal recipes at Sam has created one recipe for each month for us to cook and enjoy alongside local Shieldfield recipes.

The zine is now available. If you are interested in getting your hands on a copy then just email

9 October 2021 | Shieldfield Harvest Festival 2021

What a fantastic Harvest Festival on Saturday. We had a wonderful mix of local residents, students, SAW community, artists and many more come and celebrate and give thanks for this year’s harvest and the flourishing of Shieldfield. We enjoyed making a wreath of thankfulness by rubbing leaves picked from around Shieldfield, attaching them to a wreath made of willow grown in the SAW garden and writing what we are thankful for about our communities on the back. We enjoyed live music from Bridget and Lydia&James. We spent some time thanking God for the plentiful harvest of the past year and the natural world around us. And we tucked into a feast made by lots of our local community friends. All of the food made was from recipes given to produce our Shieldfield seasonal recipe zine so you could enjoy the food and then make it yourself at home. We even made a stew from all the produce grown in the SAW garden. 

Thanks to @huwsgarden for informing our growing this year with your productive planting plan. Thanks to for your wonderful recipes that make up part of the zine (the beetroot and ewe’s curd tarte tatin is pictured above). Thanks to all our local community growers who have helped us flourish Shieldfield together this year. And a huge thanks to Ken our Community Bee from @dwellbeingshieldfield for your incredible help in organising the festival and to your wisdom, care and hard work in growing with us this year – you are an incredible lady!! 

22 September 2021 | Growing

We picked the rocket and coriander seeds to dry for saving, picked the last of our cucumber crop, surveyed our mini pumpkin, earthed up our leeks, smiled that God has brought the sun out to hopefully further ripen our tomatoes and enjoyed the swaying of the willow. Not long now till our harvest festival on 9th October where we will enjoy the last of our produce! 

15 September 2021 | Growing

Last week we donated some rosemary to the local Big River Bakery and they used it to make a tomato and rosemary focaccia. It was very yummy and we enjoyed it in our garden working group session. We also harvested some kale, beetroot, carrots and cucumbers. Ken also scattered some yarrow seeds along the fence and we will wait to see if they grow next year to add a bit more wild to our garden.

08 September 2021 | Growing

The potato harvest is in!

01 September 2021 | Growing

Today we harvested our first small orange pumpkin ready for our Harvest Festival in October. It was also full of cucumber smiles! We are going to blanch and freeze the pumpkin and courgette and pickle the cucumber and beetroot to preserve them before the festival. Sometimes veg comes earlier than you want and our plot has been mighty productive so we are finding ways to keep the produce before we make a community feast! Maria also brought some foraged plums to share and the sunflowers were holding their cheerful faces high at the sight of our abundant crops.

18 August 2021 | Growing

The seasons are definitely turning – I can feel autumn in the air. Today at the SAW garden with @dwellbeingshieldfield we checked on our onion flower heads to see if they were ready for collecting seeds. We picked some carrots, beet leaves, beans, lettuce, kale, squash, courgettes, the last of the peas and borage flowers. We planted some carrot, kale, spinach and beetroot seeds just to see if we could get them going before the weather turns too much – perhaps a bit late but you can but try. We planted some ginger. We found a single wheat 🌾 growing and a tiny cucumber smile. And we listened to the wind in the whomping willow whose branches are rivalling the giant student blocks. Our little garden is still going strong and we are due to drown in squash fruit in the next couple of months. Our Shieldfield Growers are stellar! 

11 August 2021 | Growing and drawing

Today in the SAW garden we had some wonderful volunteers drawing our produce for our upcoming Shieldfield Seasonal Recipes zine in collaboration with @dwellbeingshieldfield and They drew peas, courgettes, onions, roses and nasturtiums. We also cleared the peas to make way for some squash, picked some gigantic courgettes and admired our mini squash (which we are keenly watching in the months to come as they grow bigger ready for an autumn stew). 

28 July 2021 | Growing

Another good harvest at the SAW garden where we grow veg in collaboration with @dwellbeingshieldfield. The sugar snaps have finished, the peas are bursting and the courgettes are just beginning to grow up. Keep up with our story to see what we create with the produce this week!!

21 July 2021 | Sharing seasonal recipes

21 July 2021 | Growing

The SAW garden is looking delicious! Our Shieldfield growers were working hard today harvesting some fresh produce. Each volunteer has taken some veggies and are each going to create a different dish to share with the growers’ group. A mini ready steady cook if you will. Look at the vibrant colours of the peas, scarlet and golden beetroot, baby carrots, rocket, kale, lettuce, rosemary, coriander, nasturtiums, borage and even a rose for infusing oils. @farmer.and.chef I’ll be hunting your blog for some inspiration! Watch this space for our community cooking creations…

19 July 2021 | Regular gardening workshops

Our gardening workshops will now be held every Wednesday mornings from 10am-12pm. We will learn how to look after and nurture the seeds that we have sown. We are looking forward to seeing these grow and flourish throughout the year, ready to be eaten together! Email if you would like to get involved in our regular gardening workshops. 

29 June 2021 | Growing

I have only been away from our wee Newcastle community activist garden for two weeks and oh my how it has grown! Our wonderful community have been hard at work watering, weeding and thinning. We have been following @huwsgardenproductive planting plan and I would say it’s pretty productive at present. It’s been jiving after the rain finally turned up! @dwellbeingshieldfield have left in a couple of onion and garlic bulbs after the solstice harvest and they now look like triffids (although the film rendition has left me with scars so maybe I’ll liken them to giants instead). Here is to community flourishing!

2 June 2021 | Growing

Weeding and watering today at the SAW garden with @dwellbeingshieldfield and a fab team has been out clearing a planter in the centre of Shieldfield. We waited last week to find out what was a weed and what was our seedlings as they were too small. This week after sticking a hand in the bed it what obvious that the majority of it was stinging nettles from the painful sting. True to its Latin genus name Urtica, it does urt! Hopefully the beetroot seedlings have more space to grow now. It is truly wonderful to work together to flourish and nurture growing things. We even harvested some rocket today by picking the bigger leaves to let the smaller ones come through. They will be a tasty treat for dinner tonight. We have been following @huwsgardenproductive planting plan, and would highly recommend 👌

May 2021 | Growing

We were back in the SAW garden today planting sugar snap peas, dwarf French beans, potatoes and salad leaves. The seedlings we sowed together with @dwellbeingshieldfield a few weeks ago are springing up and we did a bit of thinning out today. It is fun to see different people’s sowing styles 😄 And Ken has been busy labelling plant pots. We have been following @huwsgarden productive planting plan and are excited to see how the plants develop and flourish! 

12 May 2021 | Regular gardening workshops

We will hold a gardening workshop every Wednesday afternoon from 2-4pm from May 12th 2021 onwards. We will learn how to look after and nurture the seeds that we have sown. We are looking forward to seeing these grow and flourish throughout the year, ready to be eaten together! Email if you would like to get involved in our regular gardening workshops. 

If you would like to be kept updated on the rest of our growing events then please email to be added to our WhatsApp group or mailing list. 

5 May 2021 | Sowing seeds

12 April 2021 | Preparing the soil and planting courgette & squash seeds

1 April 2021 | Shieldfield Grows is back in 2021!

Shieldfield Grows is back again in 2021! Just like last year we will be distributing seeds to grow on our windowsills or in our gardens. This year we are also going to be growing food in the Shieldfield Art Works (SAW) activist garden and in planters around the neighbourhood. This is a great opportunity to come and learn a little bit about gardening, meet new people from our local community and help Shieldfield flourish together. All are welcome, whether you are a novice or a seasoned gardener. To kick off our growing in 2021 we have a few different opportunities you can join. 

12th April: Come and join us in preparing the soil in the beds at SAW and in planting some courgette and squash seeds. 

3 May: Come and join us in sowing lots of different vegetable seeds. 

Email to sign up for one of the following slots at each event:

9am – 9.30am

9.45am – 10.15am

10.30am – 11pm

11.15pm – 11.45pm

You can book in for one or both events. We are following government guidelines with the rule of 6 so you are limited to book in a max of 4 people per slot. If you are experiencing any Covid symptoms then please stay at home in order to keep us all safe and healthy.

Growers of Shieldfield

Click on the different growers to learn more about them and to see how their plants are doing.

Helen L

Sharon B

Gemma H & Alison M

Zainab G

Val M

Maria H