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The Hayesbrook School

The Hayesbrook School

Growing for Wellbeing

National Growing for Wellbeing Week

 

Growing for Wellbeing Week, takes place on the 7th to 13th June 2021. Set up by gardening therapy organisation, Life at No.27, the week is a celebration of the magic that growing your own produce can do for your wellbeing, both physically and mentally.

“Approximately 1 in 8 children have a diagnosed mental health illness by the age of 14, and 1 in 4 adults in the UK will experience mental ill health each year. That doesn’t include the huge pandemic we are currently facing both physically and mentally across the world. There is strong evidence highlighting the health benefits of gardening and GYO in particular, including improved confidence, resilience, communication, concentration and ultimately self-belief.” https://lifeatno27.com/national-growing-for-wellbeing-week/

 

In 2011, I was living in a flat with no access to a garden. However, living in Tonbridge, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by lots of lovely green space, parks and country walks. Even though I had places around me that I could go to that were scenic and peaceful, I still felt the desire to have a little patch of space outside, that I could call my own!

When I was out walking, I came across some allotments and noticed that some looked as if they were unoccupied. I enquired about the ones that I thought were empty and the next minute, they were mine to tend to!

My husband and I worked hard, preparing the ground for planting seeds and continued to visit weekly, to keep an eye on the fruits and vegetables that we were hoping would flourish. We would take a couple of camping chairs and a flask of tea and sit by the stream that was next to our plot. It was so tranquil, so relaxing and the kind of place I had been looking for (and needing) for a while!

The weeks and months went by and we started picking the crop that we had grown – beetroot, radishes, spinach, kale and rhubarb. There was a sharing table, along the path that ran through the allotments, where you could put any crop that you wanted to share with others. We would often take home flowers that people had grown and left on the table for us to enjoy.

There is something to be said for growing your own fruit, vegetables, flowers and even just keeping a houseplant alive.

Fast forward 10 years and we are finally in house of our own, with a lovely little garden, where I have been able to plan where to put plants and grow vegetables once again.

During lockdown, I found it very hard to stay upbeat and motivated, despite having a 1 year old to run around after. I can honestly say that my mental health suffered (like it did for a lot of people), from the lack of social interaction, the number of restrictions and the general sadness that hovered over us for a while.

With the sun starting to shine again, I am happy to say that I’m feeling more positive again. This has been helped by having a hobby which gets me outside and keeps me physical! We have started noticing small tomatoes growing, the kale I am growing is getting bigger every day and our herb garden is looking so healthy! I have also planted beetroot, spinach, strawberries, peppers, chillies and have an array of flowers to admire.

 

My mental health has picked up and I truly believe this is because I feel proud of what I have achieved and continue to achieve. The moment that you eat something you have grown, is such a rewarding one.

You don’t need a big outside space to enjoy planting and growing, just a windowsill! I would really recommend giving growing something a go and see how the small things in life can bring you so much joy.

Hayesbrook have a garden which is looked after by our Student Services Department. Mrs Body and Mr Hines work closely with some of our pupils who need extra support, whether that is educationally or emotionally. The garden is home to a number of fragrant plants including mint and lavender, making it a calm and relaxing environment. With the flowers being in the garden and the bird feeder being regularly topped up, means that lots of birds and bees are encouraged to enter, making it a natural, sensory space in many ways.

We would love to hear from any gardening enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys being outside, growing their own things, no matter how big or small!