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This Week’s Guest is Michelle Starling, a Gardener at the Wellcome Geonome Campus in Cambridgeshire

Always being out in the garden with my dad when I was a little girl ,eating peas straight from the pod instead of helping to weed round them.
Dad then gave me a little corner of my own ,to grow veg in, easy to grow stuff, like radishes and carrots.
i left school ,worked with horses for 10 to 12 years and then went in to factory work. Working indoors, I missed the fresh air, the summers and wet winter days. Anyhow I got chatting to a fellow, he had an allotment which had been in his family for years. This chap was getting old and was struggling to keep up with the allotment. I offered to help him but instead he signed it over to me.

It wasn’t in a terrible state but needed time and work to bring it back to a plot to grow vegetables in.
The plot measures 5 x 200m. Two thirds is for vegetables, flowers and fruit, the rest is fruit trees, a mini orchard if you like. In the mini orchard I only cut the grass in late September. I have done this over a few years now and this has enabled lovely wild flowers to flourish, such as cowslips, bluebells, even bee orchids.
I also made a little pond last year during lockdown. This pond with the wild flowers, has helped attract insects and more birds, so I kind of got my own ecosystem going.
Having the allotment gave me the confidence to look for jobs outside ,and was lucky enough to work for a countryside management company. I gained a few qualifications with them.

In 2012, I started work at the Welcome Sanger Institute as a gardener, and am still there.
Over 100 acres of wetlands nature reserve, lawns, orchard and gardens to look after. There are 8 gardeners in total, sometimes we work on one job together, sometimes we work on our own.
Whilst I have worked there, I have been able to learn lots about gardening, nature and ecology, and we are encouraged to learn.

It can be a miserable job, sweeping up leaves on a cold wet day, but in the spring when the blossoms appear on the fruit trees. Then in summer, when the flowers are at there best, its a great job to have.
Now people are starting to return to campus after being at home, due to lock down, we are getting comments on how much they have missed the gardens and seeing us gardeners too.
We are on Instagram, pictures uploaded most days find us we are genomegardeners

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