Seeds of Hope: In Memory of Ana
4 years ago today (January 11th 2016) our dear friend, volunteer, co-worker and local activist, Ana Jimenez Villareal sadly died, taking her own life, and leaving behind a legacy of inspiring actions she took in the world.
Ana was a member of the 1-in-12 club, where she was active in the bar and café collectives, a member of the Hive housing Co-op and active in BIASAN (Bradford Immigration and Asylum Support and Advice Network) and took a stand on many important issues.
She was a member of the Print Project and a very creative soul, with many projects on the go, upcycling her own hats (which she was well known for) and making cards, gifts and crafts.
Ana was keen to create social change in her lifetime and had a big impact on many people and studied Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. She came to the UK in 2010, fleeing her country and she sought asylum. She gained refugee status and went on to study at the University of Bradford, where she was a keen student. She was a dear friend to many and is sadly missed.
She had volunteered with us sporadically over several years and in 2015 became our student intern through the Summer Experience at the University (a project we continue to engage with). She won an award for her work with us through the summer experience and in true Ana style refused to shake the chancellor’s hand upon receipt of the ward in defiance of his lack of support for striking workers (ever the rebel prepared to take a stand). She also took an intro to Permaculture course with us whilst she was an intern and was really keen to learn more.
Ana helped to build our fit pit (where we host our annual bonfire and day of the dead events), tend vegetable beds, worked in the forest garden, mowed to keep the paths, supported volunteers and families attending our summer camp. She also grew some tomatoes and cracking cucumbers and really loved the bees!
As friends and colleagues at Horton Community Farm Co-op Ltd. we would like to dedicate our ongoing therapy program and seed saving activities in memory of Ana. We have a purpose-built therapy garden and a variety of therapy programs designed and piloted in our community. We have found that working with vulnerable groups we often end our outdoor activity in the therapy garden at the end of autumn (although volunteers carry on across the site) which means although we pick food and enjoy flowers in the therapy garden throughout the growing season we are also able to leave many of our plants to gather seeds from and grow with year on year. We save seeds for growing across our 2-acre site from our therapy garden.
We hope that the garden will continue to reach out to asylum seekers and refugees, people struggling with mental health difficulties or affected by suicide and for anyone seeking sanctuary, connection and well-being to benefit and share in the joys of growing, tranquillity, wildlife and companionship of our space.
We are taking this moment to name our therapy garden program ‘Seeds of hope’ and will continue to work towards change inspired by Ana and the other amazing people who have attended and supported our projects in a variety of ways.
If you feel able to make any financial contribution all proceeds will go to our ongoing therapy programs. We are currently running the Mindfulness Garden project, supported by the Council’s Health and Well-being Commissioning Fund and any additional funds would help us to continue our work beyond 2020. £1200 will help us run 4 more session; 2 reaching 20-24 asylum seekers and refugees; those struggling with mental health and 2 to reach 20 professionals supporting those groups to increase referrals to our project. We will also seek additional funding to ensure the project is ongoing. We will aim to match fund £550 raised here with £550 which we hope to raise.
We will continue to run our programs, sell seeds and plants from the garden and will put a bench in the therapy garden in memory of Ana.
Ana was a beautiful soul and her legacy lives on.