My ‘day job’ is an Occupational Therapist with a special interest in social and therapeutic horticulture. I am one of the founding members of Grow For It, a community garden in Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taff. We are a group of passionate, committed local people who want to grow fresh food and offer accessible well-being spaces and workshops in Llantrisant. Our conservation projects make the most of our local public land – for example, clearing junk out of our woodlands, making them safer and more accessible; managing land in a way that respects the local biodiversity and encourages native pollinator plants. With the involvement of our schools, local businesses and voluntary groups, together aim to create a more inclusive community – one that looks out for the well-being of residents while increasing an awareness of climate change and appreciation of our local environment. We got involved with Renew when we were allocated an inspiring and motivating coordinator / mentor to help us in our early stages, with helping us to plan community engagement events and workshops to shape the way our garden developed and give us the confidence to run with our aspirations.
Tell us about one or more experience of your work with Renew. Who was the group and what did they want, what action plan did they have, how did you help them and what happened next.
I feel that as our community garden project has been through ups and downs, the process has resonated with that which I undertake in my profession. I assess the situation, work through the various options and avenues to come up with possibilities, implement changes and evaluate whether these have been successful. Breaking down the process and focussing on the individuals (or projects) needs / strengths helps with keeping a project on track and moving in the appropriate direction.
I have helped other local community gardens informally in helping to build networks and identify sources of information, resources and people who can help, and have been fortunate to reciprocally benefit from the same support due to the relationships that have been built.
The individual and wider benefits of working in outdoor / environmental settings, making bonds and building community strengths have been very important to me personally and have massive potential for improving community wellbeing.