It is now being acknowledged that gardening is therapeutic for those engaging in it, this is something that we have been aware for quite some time, both on a personal level and in our interactions with community members who take the trowel and grow some of their own food. There is now increasingly more evidence coming from diverse strands of the academic community relating to gardening’s effectiveness in helping to bring about well being
The main objective of our work in Bolton has been to try and help people to grow food in their gardens and yards, but what also comes from this action is the sense of well being generated by this activity, here are some of the projects that we have delivered that have had a direct effect on the well being of participants.
Sow and Grow Project
The sow and Grow project came about when National criminal justice charity NACRO contacted us in the early spring of 2012. We delivered a growing project underpinned by permaculture ethics and principles to around a dozen hard core ex-offenders housed in an East Manchester hostel. After only two weeks of the project, the residents began to talk about it being great working outdoors and how it gave them something to get up for in the morning, they also began waiting in the classroom long before I arrived to deliver the sessions. One of the lads who attended the sessions became a volunteer on a local gardening project something he never thought he’d do. Throughout the project the men grew fruit and vegetables in the hostel garden, learned how to cook and made Rocket stoves to cook their produce on. Towards the end of the session one of the men said ‘All I’ve ever made in my life is a mess, now i can grow food and bake bread’ Another man said ‘When I eventually get my own place i am gonna grow stuff, it don’t half chill you out’
Gardening & well being @ the Courtyard
The gardening and well being project was delivered at the HQ of local mental health charity Bolton Steps, this project ran throughout the spring and summer of 2014 to people suffering with mental ill health. Similarly we saw a great level of keenness, and one thing that is always a good measure of delivery is when people start to turn up half an hour before the sessions begin, which like the Sow and Grow project discussed above was also the case here. One woman who attended said ‘I have never worked outside, its such a good feeling’ One of the men attending took some seeds home and began growing on his windowsill. By the end of the project there was a good level of confidence amongst the growers who had been initially shy and nervous at the beginning.
Cawdor street Growers
In 2015 we worked with a group of Women from the once troubled Cawdor Estate in Farnworth in Bolton. We provided the women with gardening resources and horticultural support. One of the growers wa brave enough to do a video with us about how gardening had had a positive effect on her well being
Beechcroft community allotments
For the last three years we have provided some support to the growers on the Beechcroft community allotment site in Darcy Lever, In a similar way to the Cawdor growers one of the growers on the Beechcroft site allowed us to make a short video personal video about gardening and the beneficial effects it has had on life and his general well being.