Fifteen people came together on Thursday 13th September in Yeovil to learn about the benefits and practices of therapeutic horticulture. Occupational Therapists, Gardeners, Mental Health Nurses and more from established and potential projects across Somerset participated in the day organised by South Somerset Mind in partnership with Somerset Community Food.
The course focused on the benefits of horticultural therapy on emotional & physical wellbeing, drawing from scientific research as well as case studies from the Vanessa Project and other ecotherapy projects from around the world.
The course was facilitated by Alison Hayward, a South Somerset Mind employee who started the Vanessa Project, a therapeutic allotment project in Yeovil that has supported people to experience the therapeutic benefits of growing for the last 5 years. Read more about the Vanessa Project here: http://vanessaproject.netne.net Liz Simmons also supported in the delivery of the course, sharing her diverse experiences in different community settings.
Overall it was a fantastic day. A classroom session in the morning introduced the theory behind the action and gave all the participants a chance to share their experience of the healing gained from connecting with the land. Alison introduced some of the research and quantitive data that demonstrates the immense benefits of ecotherapy, as the various kinds were introduced from therapeutic horticulture to wilderness therapy and more.
Following lunch all the participants went up to see the Vanessa Project itself and had the chance to discuss some of the practical logistics of working with clients and managing growing spaces collectively. The final part of the day focused on access to land, where Linda Hull and Nicole Vosper from Somerset Community Food looked at the various situations of people from the group and their options for accessing land, resources and funding for their projects to start or continue. Various handouts were exchanged, including links to the Funding Pages hosted on the Somerset Community Food websiteand fact sheets about accessing land.
For everyone who participated in the day, the yields were multiple - understanding the context of therapeutic horticulture better, learning more about getting your hands dirty in practice, being introduced to some of the local sources of support available and most importantly, meeting others who share a passion and an interest for supporting all members of the community to have the experience of growing their own food and the therapeutic benefits that brings.
If you are interested in therapeutic horticulture and would like to be connected to those that participated in the day and the emerging network of practitioners working locally, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
A video from the day will also be uploaded shortly.
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