A dose of nature: thanks to £49,000 Metro Mayor grant

It’s official – gardening is great for mental health.

Anyone who looks after their own garden or allotment could have told you that, but now Metro Mayor Dan Norris found out first-hand just how true this is when he saw how one much-loved community garden is making a real difference thanks to a grant from the West of England Authority he leads.

On his visit to south Bristol’s finest Windmill City, Mr Norris saw how a mega £49,000 cash injection is being used to fund training as he met some of the 100 Bristolians on the courses taking place there and at St Werburghs and Lawrence Weston farms.

Everyone on the training courses – all of whom have at some time struggled with their mental health – can grow veggies in the garden to use in the café and farm shop and build new habitats for local wildlife areas, all while learning important strategies to manage their mental health.

Research shows that people who spend more time in the garden are more likely to report general good health, better wellbeing and greater physical activity levels than those who do not, and gardening is now prescribed by the NHS.

He also spoke to Windmill farm CEO Steve Sayers. He explained how the courses are really relaxed and informal, enabling local Bristolians to improve their well-being and mental health – and bring some joy to the talented Bristolians on the courses.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “There is something magical about gardening. The first sight of a teeny seedling pushing its way through the earth can do wonders for our mental health. And getting stuck in – minus the gardening gloves that is – can make you more cheerful too! Through ‘gardening for wellbeing’, Windmill City Farm training is giving more Bristolians the confidence and skills they need to go on to grow and dig their way to success. And it also means making friends for life –as important to our wellbeing as having enough sleep and eating more healthily. Good mental health is so important to leading positive lives and that is why I’m so pleased a £50,000 cash injection from the West of England Authority is supporting local people to build resilience, manage their wellbeing and build a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones”.

Windmill City Farm CEO Steve Sayers said: “The courses are relaxed and informal, enabling local people to improve their wellbeing and to build self-confidence in an inclusive and supportive environment. City farms are welcoming to everyone, and we make sure that our courses suit what people need to feel better in themselves and to take their next steps. The cash investment is crucial in enabling us to do this work, to keep the doors open to serve the needs of local people and to bring a little joy into the lives of everyone who gets involved here”.

With a 42-year history, Windmill Hill City Farm is a community farm in Bedminster. It now employs 125 staff, has over 300 volunteers a year, and an annual visitor footfall of 140,000.

Mental health charity Nilaari are helping deliver the Metro Mayor-funded project

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