Consett gardening project aims to improve mental and physical health through horticulture therapy

Let’s Get Growing project coordinators Ross Menzies and Katrina Padmore.
-Credit: (Image: Fusion PR)


A Consett gardening project aims to improve mental and physical health through therapeutic horticulture.

Let's Get Growing offers wellbeing sessions for people with mental health issues, dementia or mild learning difficulties, as well as those who are socially isolated or with low self-esteem.

After an £8,900 grant from The Bernicia Foundation, the project can now deliver 45 weekly sessions where 80 participants can tend to a community garden, growing a wide range of fruit and vegetables. They can then take these home to cook simple, healthy and affordable meals from basic ingredients.

The two-acre garden is based at Minsteracres Retreat Centre in Consett, and also features ornamental and herb beds. It has been designed as a space to encourage wildlife, and is the newest facet of the work that Let's Get Growing, which is based in Hexham, does with different groups, such as asylum seekers, people in recovery from substance misuse, carers and the homeless.

Let’s Get Growing is supported by a team of ten volunteers who look to help people build their own skills, confidence and self-esteem. Ross Menzies, joint Project Coordinator for the charity, believes that gardening can help people through challenges in their lives.

People taking part in the Let's Get Growing gardening project in Consett.
People taking part in the Let's Get Growing gardening project in Consett. -Credit:Fusion PR

He said: "The people that attended the sessions were part of a mixed-need group and, whatever the challenges they faced in their personal lives, in the garden they were appreciated for who they were and supported to make a meaningful contribution.

"Many conversations happened alongside gardening and much sharing and laughter took place naturally and easily. It is hard to express just what a difference it can make when someone is valued for who they are, really heard, when they have a sense of purpose, belonging and something to take pride in."

Let’s Get Growing has seen a rise in demand for mental health support and meaningful activities for people with dementia and learning difficulties. It is also committed to supporting carers who feel isolated and need support to meet their own mental health and wellbeing needs.

Ross added: "We have also been able to welcome many other groups into the garden and held an open day with workshops and guided tours. The garden is a place of belonging and transformation and the funding from The Bernicia Foundation has allowed so many positive things to take place for so many people."