This project, delivered at Rugby Wellbeing Hub with the Master Gardeners, John and Sandy Young, commenced in the middle of March. From the outset there was enthusiasm and involvement from a number of the Hub service users and Hub staff and volunteers – this began with the transfer of the delivered topsoil from the large builders bag into the four individual planters. Following discussions between the Master Gardeners and service users on what they would like to grow, seeds started to be sown in the raised beds and also seedlings begun inside.
During this period service users and staff in the drop-in started to discuss what the final produce could be used for, and this has led to a suggestion that a recipe booklet be put together comprising of recipes using the produce grown – this is ongoing and is being contributed to by all.
We hear on the whole positive comments about our raised beds – it’s a talking point across groups within the hub. We’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve entered the building and immediately asked what we’re growing. The only negative is that they’re so exposed we hope there are no light fingered passers by, but to date this has not been an issue and we are aware that other similar projects in public areas do not experience this problem.
The positive impact this is having on service users’ wellbeing is apparent in their demeanour when seeing, working on or discussing the planting. Already one service user has bought a raised bed at home, and he and several more are now growing herbs and produce where they live.
One service user, who isn’t interested in growing at home, likes the social aspect to the gardening project and the fact that he isn’t solely responsible – there is always someone there to water or weed and keep things going if you’re not feeling up to it. If something goes wrong with your plants at home it might be easy to feel negative about yourself but if something goes wrong at the hub it’s always looked upon as a lesson learned and no single person is responsible.
The beds are encouraging people to be a little creative in the kitchen too. One staff member had no idea what to do with radishes for example but when they said that to the gardening group, the social support group and the drop-in, the service users gave her and each other a whole host of inspiration.