Gardening therapy in a time of crisis
“Tending the gardens gives me a feeling of hope for the future”
In response to Covid-19, Food for Life Get Togethers awarded multiple crisis Small Grants to local organisations across the UK who were providing volunteer support with food and growing.
The aim is to make people happier and healthier through good food, communities and connecting people of all ages and backgrounds. This mission is even more important during the current pandemic, where food poverty, isolation and mental health problems are increasing.
Growing Works in Kirklees is a therapeutic horticulture project, who are using their crisis Small Grant to provide activity and growing packs, along with gardening resources for families who have children with special education needs and disabilities, isolated people, adults with mental health conditions (both diagnosed and undiagnosed), refugees and asylum seekers.
The aim of the project is to aid mental health and wellbeing, and support growing activities to help move towards a more sustainable, community-based way of eating. The organisation has been maintaining accessible outdoor growing areas during the pandemic to enable local communities to engage with nature and produce a harvest to be used by all locally, bringing people together through food in a socially safe way, to tackle loneliness and isolation.
“I appreciated support from Growing Works, particularly when other activities had been closed off to me, and my usual daily routine was turned upside down”, says a participant. “It was a time of great stress and anxiety, where I had to cope on my own with a child with mental health needs. It was a huge help to be able to chat about these things every week in a quiet and accepting place, where I could see the same people and they could offer a listening ear. Helping to nurture a shared space feels like contributing to something that people - including myself - can come back to. Tending the gardens gives me a feeling of hope for the future, that they will be there looking beautiful and ready for people to meet up again.”