Together We Grow – gardening for mental health
There’s outer and inner gardening happening in the gardens around The Park in Findhorn at the moment, in a new project aimed at supporting mental health and wellbeing through connection with nature.
Together We Grow, a new partnership with the Moray Wellbeing Hub, was inspired by comments like this: ‘It’s like a different world. I’m feeling peaceful and happy. I feel more confident and have a new spring in my step. Four months ago I felt anxiety and depression. Now I feel turned around 180 degrees.’
That came from a participant on last year’s Moray Food Systems course, delivered in partnership with Moray College, that offered training in organic food production to those facing long-term unemployment.
‘Although geared towards employability, we found that one of the biggest benefits of the course was to participants’ wellbeing and mental health,’ said Tara Gibsone, who heads educational partnerships for the Findhorn Foundation. ‘The simple activity of being together and working with the garden provided a sense of connection, meaning and empowerment.
‘This noticeable change we witnessed prompted us to explore how the Findhorn Foundation gardens could connect with and contribute to the local area in different forms – this time in the area of wellbeing and mental health.’
Together We Grow now runs every Monday through summer, when a group arrives at The Park to get their hands into the earth. In rhythm with the season, they gain valuable experience and do meaningful work, while connecting with others in a nourishing community environment.
The group is learning about – and helping with – the sustainable cultivation of food, including sowing seeds, composting, taking care of plants, garden design and maintenance, harvesting and preparing produce for sale.
Together We Grow rests on the concept of social and therapeutic horticulture – using plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health. Research has shown how working together in gardens can nurture a sense of purpose and achievement, reduce feelings of isolation, contribute to physical health, and support wellbeing by spending time outside in touch with nature.
‘I feel grateful to be a part of the group, experiencing how working with plants and gardens can have a positive impact on your day and life as a whole,’ said Tara. ‘It’s been heartwarming to see how the group has come together and the care and support they give each other.
‘Among the highlights are the creative and personal development sessions where we’ve spent time in the pottery and also with other local artists. We have some interesting sessions lined up for the second half of the project!’
The project runs every Monday from 9:30am to 2:30pm and will continue till October. We welcome new participants at any point –register your interest through the Moray Wellbeing Hub to be contacted by our project coordinator.
- Whether focused on employability, education or mental health, our garden projects bring together land use, social care and sustainability in innovative ways – combining care for the land with care for people. This growing edge enriches our work, establishing meaningful connections with the local area through mutually beneficial partnerships.