Spending time working in gardens and outdoors has been shown to offer a wide range of benefits. The simple activities of propagating, planting and nurturing plants can improve physical and mental wellbeing, encourage social interaction and release endorphins that reduce stress. In fact the soil itself has been shown to release antidepressants which improves our mood!
Our horticultural therapy programmes take place in our bountiful, permaculture inspired garden. This garden grows vegetables for sale in local markets as well as offering a perfect space for groups of all abilities to experience the benefits of horticulture. We work with local care groups, day centres and schools to provide a nurturing space for people and opportunity to connect with our environment and access good organic food.
We aim for attendees to work through a project across a number of weeks, giving people the opportunity to see something through from beginning to end and really create a sense of connection with the garden. Recent projects include working with a group with severe learning difficulties to design a shed using permaculture principles, build the shed and fit it out. As well as improving the garden by adding wood chip pathways and a new growing bed. The clients have shown an amazing progression over the 3 month programme and over the sessions they have developed a strong desire to work hard to complete the project. For many these sessions offer rare experience from new skills such as tool use to feeding chickens, goat and sheep.
We are thoroughly grateful to the North Devon AONB Sustainable Development Fund for its help in financing this project. Without their help we would not be able to offer these programmes.