Charity garden ‘will improve well-being’

AN HORTICULTURAL therapist has set up a community garden to help improve the mental and physical wellbeing of people in the surrounding area.

W08059H14  Cliff Evans, site coordinator, and  Zoe Colson-Spence, Roots to Growth director
W08059H14 Cliff Evans, site coordinator, and Zoe Colson-Spence, Roots to Growth director

Zoe Colson-Spence decided to create the Roots to Growth project, at Rock Farm, Washington, after a charity she volunteered with last year left the site. Her independent charity aims to provide a ‘working market garden, a sanctuary, a safe space, a community, a place of growth, inspiration and transformation’.

The six-acre plot is part of the Wiston Estate, owned by the Goring family. It was previously used as a market garden support project by charity Friends First, which has relocated to a site nearer to Brighton.

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Zoe said: “The idea is to turn it into a horticultural therapy project that’s linked in to the community. It’s getting people out on to the land, getting them involved in meaningful activities – working with people across the board, improving their mental and physical health in general.”

The charity wants different groups to work the land at the site each day of the week. Zoe said she would be approaching voluntary groups in Worthing and the surrounding areas, that a mums’ group in Steyning wanted to participate and positive links had already been made with Steyning Grammar School.

The charity has also made contact with representatives from Worthing-based social enterprise Our Patch, who Zoe said, were keen to get their contacts in mental health groups involved.

Part of the land will be divided into ‘project allotments’, where everything grown will be used to cook lunches for those working on site. In addition to working with charitable groups, Zoe has formed a partnership with Transition Town Worthing. The Veg Box scheme – a sustainable food hub in Worthing which uses local produce – provides members of the public with fresh fruit and vegetables at a price which is fair for both them and producers.

Pauline Cory, a member of Transition Town Worthing, said the Roots to Growth project was ‘absolutely brilliant’. She added: “It will, hopefully, provide a nurturing space for people who have learning difficulties and mental health problems. Zoe’s got some fantastic ideas and I hope it will be a successful project.”

Marc Scrace, director of Love Food, a manufacturer of artisan ready-made meals, has offered the scheme space to put the veg boxes together, at his company’s Broadwater warehouse.

“It’s quite a nice little thing, it’s community driven,” he said.

“We will, wherever possible, try and support them as best we can.”