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Grow & Make: using horticulture to enhance wellbeing

Grow and Make is a 12-week social and therapeutic horticulture programme designed to help participants improve their mental health. Gardening together can help bring about positive changes to people struggling with mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, stress and loneliness. Our participants join us through a variety of ways including self-referral or being signposted by GP’s and social prescribers. 

During the sessions we always meet in the roundhouse or its garden, and start the day with a ‘check-in’, where participants are invited to discuss how they are feeling, how their week has been and what they might hope to achieve on the day. I then introduce the morning’s activity and the theory which supports it. This might be something like plant propagation or seed sowing which we will then carry out together. 

The gardening activities are set around tending to the raised beds and the forest garden in the part of The Farm known as the ‘Learning Area’. A shared lunch is enjoyed and, during the bumper months, we take the opportunity to pick fresh ingredients from the garden and cook them together in the roundhouse. Previous favourites have included a broad bean hummus dip and a hearty chilli using harvested cherokee beans. We also might spend time doing other activities such as preparing herbal balms, making fat-balls for the birds and building seed trays from disused pallets.

Over the years feedback from people who have taken part in Grow & Make has been incredibly positive. Participants indicate that being active outside, learning new skills and meeting new people has led to dramatically improving their mood with stress being reduced and confidence restored. They have also appreciated being given the opportunity to open up about their experiences in a safe space without fear of judgement. As main caregivers to the Learning Area, Grow & Make participants develop a sense of purpose and achievement whilst making a positive contribution to the environment here at The Farm. Without doubt, therapeutic gardening improves an individual’s physical and psychological health by bringing people - and plants - together. 

Find out more about Grow & Make and join the next course.

By Ellie Nurcombe, Grow & Make course leader

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We deliver to Bristol, Bath, Chew Valley, Weston-Super-Mare, Frome and plenty of places in-between!