Many people during the past 18 months have found gardening to be a good form of exercise and helpful for their mental health. Even if space is limited, having a little area, whether it is a windowsill, or a patio, the feeling of seeing life spring from a seed or a bulb can be joyous. What most people have longed for during this time has been social connection with others who share similar interests and joys. The gardening group in Kings Norton South ticks all these boxes.
Originally coming out of the Mother Garden’s Home Grow project – supporting households during lockdown to grow food at home, this group emerged as a way to bring these new gardeners together, sharing in a community space. It is now a motivated and friendly group, working to be self-led.
What happens at the gardening group?
The group meets up every Thursday between 12.30pm and 2.30pm at Hawkesley Community Centre. At the moment there are 8 active members, and a few others that come along from time to time, but they are always open to more members joining. They start the sessions with a tea or coffee from the community centre café and there are always biscuits on offer. They chat about their week and decide on what they are going to do with the garden for the day.
What gardening activities do the members take part in?
All the gardening equipment has been provided by Spring to Life’s Mother Gardens project. There are some raised beds where they plant seasonal vegetables. There is always something to do, whether it is planting seeds, weeding, replanting, watering. The members are good at getting on with what needs to be done. They help each other out, each person doing what they can do to their ability.
How does being a member of the gardening group promote well-being?
Ultimately, it promotes a sense of community. The group members spend a couple of hours outdoors, amongst people who have become friends over time. They chat about the garden and the plants, sharing knowledge they have accumulated from the activities and from their own experience. Members feel supported and have a connection to a shared interest.
What are the benefits of being a member of the gardening group?
The social interaction was key for all members and are keen for new members to join so they can experience the benefits too. They think it is beneficial for both mental and physical health. Being out in nature, in all weathers they can experience a sense of change and appreciate the cycles of life.
What does the future hold for the gardening group?
The aim is for the gardening group to become self-sufficient. The group also does work at Millennium fields working with group who look after that beautiful and wild space. Here they carry out conservation tasks and help maintain the orchards. They are looking for volunteers to maintain it and use it for gardening projects.
How can people get in touch if they would like to become a member of the gardening group?
Testimonials. What people got most out of the gardening group:
‘Meeting people and spending time in the fresh air and learning new things.’
‘Doing something interesting and sharing gardening ideas.’
‘exercise and spending time in nature.’