A celebration marked the first season of a new growing project set up in partnership between Central Bedfordshire Council and local environmental charity Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire.
The project, which received funding from Baily Thomas Charitable Trust, Central Beds Council, Houghton Regis Town Council, Tesco Charity Trust, Boots plc and Mrs Karen Lara, has been active since March, providing clients at the Townsend Day Centre in Houghton Regis with a weekly horticultural and therapeutic gardening session.
While many of us enjoy pottering in our gardens, the growing club at the day centre provides a unique opportunity for people with a learning disability to develop new skills in horticulture. Further benefits include developing their skills in communication, socialisation and increasing their independent living skills.
Over the last 30 weeks, 15 people from the day centre have each learnt about different aspects of gardening, like maintaining soil, the importance of watering, sowing seeds, nurturing plants and harvesting crops.
Each session is divided into specific, repeated tasks allowing clients to learn each technique in a safe and controlled environment.
Groundwork has led the majority of sessions, but there has been an emphasis throughout on staff working at the centre supporting delivery, in order to ensure that skills and confidence are also developed to allow for the continuation of the project into the next growing season and beyond.
Councillor Carole Hegley, executive member for social care, health and housing at Central Beds Council, said: “This project opens up so many more opportunities for people to consider, including their aspiration to attend training or seek paid employment. The partnership with Groundwork is hugely valued by staff and customers and we are proud to be part of it.”
Natalie Sutterby from Groundwork said: “The centre customers and staff have been fantastically supportive of the project and always keen to dig in with whatever tasks were required each week.
“We are so pleased that the project has allowed for customers to focus on their social communication and interaction skills without even realising it, through team tasks and the responsibility of watering the garden or thinning out the crops in between sessions.”
If you’re interested in Groundwork running a growing project with you, or for more information about the project, contact Natalie Sutterby at Groundwork – Natalie.email@example.com / 01582 720147 / 07887 867771