Gardening for health and wellbeing
People often tell us that gardening and getting outdoors has improved their mental wellbeing and stress levels. Some say it helped them to lose weight or exercise more. Those involved at community gardens often enjoy the chance to meet new people and gain skills, or even try new foods.
Nationally, there is an increasing recognition of the evidence base for these benefits. Sustain's Growing Health report (2014) summarises the evidence of benefits of gardening for health and wellbeing.
Evaluation of our garden volunteer enquiries during 2014-15 Harvest Case Study found that 58% of people who volunteered weekly at a garden in Brighton & Hove reported significant improvements to wellbeing (using validated SWEMWBS tool) and 67% reported improved life satisfaction after 3-6 months. 100% felt their garden experience would have a long-term, positive impact on their life. For those who volunteered a few times or more, 42% mentioned an improvement to their diet and 29% reported an increase in physical activity. People involved at community gardens also enjoy the chance to meet new people and gain skills. Nationally, a range of scientific literature provides further evidence for these benefits.
What is available
We give advice to people that want to try gardening as we are keen to help more people to benefit. Anyone can contact us directly, or health professionals and support workers can refer people to us for an advice session.
Most people get involved by volunteering at a community garden - there are over 70 different spaces in the city so there's something for everyone. Volunteer workdays take place all year round, during the week and at weekends, so volunteers can drop-in once or attend regularly. Gardens are open to people of all ages and levels of fitness, complete beginners and experienced growers.
All work is supervised and tasks could include clearing the ground in preparation for food growing, planting and seed sowing, weeding and hoeing, harvesting produce, building raised beds and shifting compost, general site maintenance or occasional help with events. Many gardens share their harvest with volunteers, or cook a shared meal on site during each workday.
Some specialist gardens offer more tailored services - such as support for people with additional needs or therapeutic activities for those with mental health issues.
Our new 'Sharing the Harvest' project can offer extra support to people with learning disabilities or those with experience of homelessness, mental health issues, abuse and addiction to get involved at community gardens.
The Food Partnership is helping partners to setup and run gardens in new spaces such as hostels, refuges and day centres. We can offer advice, workshops & courses, or taster sessions for groups of vulnerable adults interested to try gardening or setup a new garden. We also offer one-to-one advice and support to people who want to find an existing garden project to try. The project is funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.
Get in touch
If you or someone you know wants to get involved in any of the activities above, ask any questions or find out more, please complete our volunteer enquiry form below or contact Jo Glazebrook, Volunteer Coordinator, on or 01273 431716. You can also find out more about making a referral if you are a health professional or support worker.
My mental wellbeing has changed immensely; before I started I was suicidal and did not see any point in living. Volunteering changed that - I was able to be in nature, which I love, and connect with people in a very relaxed and non-judgemental setting. My mental wellbeing has increased since then, and I now feel a lot better.
volunteer at various gardens
Many thanks for referring me to volunteer ... the whole thing exceeded my expectations... I felt that working with my hands and doing something practical was very therapeutic for me.
volunteer at Plot 22