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July 15, 2019
Charlotte Antoniou is one of our fantastic ecotherapists who offers a listening ear to any of our volunteers who need a little support. Here's her tribute to our volunteers and the vineyard.
I wanted to write a little about our amazing volunteers and life with the vines.
Throughout the growing season, harvest and hard winters when the volunteers return week after week ensuring that the vines are protected from the elements, whilst getting soaked and having soggy boots themselves. It's a certain special kind of dedication that the volunteers give.
It is not about the end result of the wine being bottled and sold in the shop and the profit made but it is the tender loving care that each and every vine receives from the volunteers.
Friendships are forged and networks are made and even jobs have been gained through meeting others at the vineyard. One thing for sure is that these vines and volunteers make the vineyard wine taste all the better.
It's surprising how the vineyard can weave it's magic. The ordered rows of one hundred vines, each needing careful tendering by hand, whether we are weeding around the base of the plant, carefully pruning it or tying it onto the wire everyone takes care of that individual plant as if it were there own prized grapevine. It is not surprising when Mother Nature strikes with frost, disease or damage that the volunteers take that personally and are upset when something out of their control can set to hinder the vine's production in any way.
Some are retired or semi-retired and wish to maintain their work skills, others want the social aspect of being part of a team or meeting new people. Some come to learn a skill and others come to improve their health and mental wellbeing. Wherever these individuals have come from, whatever their background the one thing they have in common is the desire to be out in the fresh air with other likeminded people.
The Vineyard is a true metaphor for life, the volunteers can give their time and attention to one vine in the pruning process and then they move on. Just like we can give our time and energy to one thing in our lives at that very moment. Once it's dealt with we move on. Even if the pruning was a bit harsh or perhaps we pruned the wrong stem, there's nothing we can do about it, only move on to the next vine and learn from that mistake.
When the frost came and wiped out the vine growth it was devastating. It almost felt like a bereavement. However hard it was for all of us, we continued on. We were all affected by that event and the effects remained with us when we harvested the grapes four months on. However the following year came, the anniversary of the frost came and went and thankfully we could look to the sunshine for reassurance. No frosts, perhaps this year will be better we thought.
It's was. We had our biggest harvest yet. A bumper crop.
So now we know, after a tough time, things do get better and we can look for the sunshine.
There seems to be no better analogy than life at the vineyard.
Read more about our ecotherapy work here.
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