The NHS 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing and Us!!

When we began Incredible Edible Bristol we were very aware that there were a lot of people in the city who firmly believed that as they didn’t have a garden, growing food and gardening was something that was off their radar. Part of what we are trying to achieve is to say to the whole city, there are a myriad of places you can go to to garden without having to have a space of your own, in the traditional back garden sense. For example there are lots of things that can be grown in pots and containers on balconies and in doorways if you live in a flat. However, our main point on this subject is that there are many community gardens in the city, all of whom rely on people to come along to sessions, get involved, and then use the food when it is grown. Every single ward in the city has at least one of these spaces and many have several, that include not just community gardens but orchards, shared allotments, city farms and specialist spaces.

But why I hear you ask?! And the answer is simple. Gardening is good for you. But we can break that down further and by focusing on the NHS 5 Steps to Wellbeing, breaking it down is simple, so here we go.

  1. Connect. It’s so important to meet other people, even if it’s just a hello, how are you and a cup of tea. All the gardens in the city are full of people who want to connect over the project they are involved with and who welcome new faces with open arms. What’s also great about the Incredible Edible Bristol gardens is that as they are in public spaces, you end up connecting with people who are just walking past and who are usually delighted and amazed to see food growing in such amazingly urban settings.
  2. Be Active. Even if you aren’t up to digging for hours, and let’s face it few of us really are, pottering around a garden, picking out a few weeds or planting some seedlings is good activity. You can’t help but be active in a garden!
  3. Keep Learning. Whether you are a gardener or not, you never stop learning in the garden as new plants arrive and strange pests attack there is always learning to do!
  4. Give to Others. Even a hello is given, as is a smile. But being in a community space and giving that space your time and energy is a great way of giving whilst giving yourself time and space.
  5. Be Mindful. In a garden it’s impossible not to be mindful. Concentrating on the job in hand, be that weeding, planting, sowing or watering, connects us with the soil and makes us think about what we are doing and achieving in the here and now. Mix that with stopping to concentrate on a bird singing, or a butterfly flying and staying in the moment is a pleasureable thing to do.

Whereas all this might seem quite obvious, we think sometimes it can be lost in that obviousness. So I wonder if you can think of someone who might benfit from a bit of a session in a garden? Someone who might be socially a bit isolated, a bit low or struggling with other things in their lives. If you can, why not gently suggest where there nearest community garden is and pop along with them to check it out. Afterall, it’s good for us all!!


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