Gardening ‘prescriptions’ keep growing

A growing number of GPs and healthcare professionals are ‘prescribing’ gardening to improve health outcomes for their patients. The health and wellbeing benefits of gardening and food growing are increasingly being recognised, leading to a rise in the number of projects being commissioned by The NHS and public health, the Growing Health project has found.

Gardening prescriptions are being championed by a growing movement of charities and healthcare organisations who want gardening and food growing to be seen as a key activity for public health, general health and social care. Many of these projects engage people at risk of ill health and in areas of high social deprivation, providing physical and mental health benefits as well as helping to reduce social isolation.

Professor Jeremy Levy, Director of Education and Quality at Health Education North West London stated “Investing and supporting food growing and gardening as part of our health service is a cost effective way to improve health as well as prevent ill health”.

This topic will be discussed by leading healthcare professionals at a forthcoming conference ‘Prescribing Gardening - making green care a natural part of the health service’ on Wednesday 27th May in London. The day is for commissioners and healthcare professionals to see and taste for themselves the benefits of food growing for people who given a ‘green prescription’. It will take place in the beautiful setting of Phoenix High School Farm, in the White City Estate, which is one of Hammersmith Community Garden Association’s (HGCA) therapeutic gardening projects.

A former project volunteer, now project coordinator, Kevin Bittan commented on the impact on his health. “The course made a dramatic difference to my life and I very quickly started feeling physically better. My age and the years of self-abuse and stress had taken their toll but attending the Get Out There gardening project put a real spring in my step.”

The programme includes an expert panel of speakers including Professor Jeremy Levy MA PhD FHEA FRCP who will be presenting ‘Commissioning gardening and food growing to promote health’. Doctor Cavanagh, GP at Brook Green Medical Centre and CCG board member will be looking at ‘Gardening for health – a GP’s perspective’. Other projects highlighted include a public health commissioned project in Tower Hamlets.

The conference is part of the Growing Health project run by Sustain and Garden Organic and HGCA Plant a Seed – Grow Well project. It is supported by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. To book visit Suggested donation £20

For more information please contact: Maria Devereaux, Growing Health or Amy Chrisp - Hammersmith Community Gardens Association

Growing Health is a national project run by Garden Organic and Sustain, which is funded by the Tudor Trust, to see how community food growing can be routinely used by the health and social care services as a way of promoting health and wellbeing for a range of individuals and population groups

Evidence of the benefits of gardening and food growing can be found in Growing Health publication ‘The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing’

Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA) is an award winning local charity which runs four pocket park/greenhouse/school farm sites, delivers gardening education to local schools, and also delivers outdoor/environmental health-based programmes for other organisations.

The charity has experience of working with hard to reach groups including those at risk of homelessness and from BME background. The association has developed a peer mentoring and volunteer ambassador programme.

The Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens supports, represents and promotes community-managed farms and gardens across the UK.

Phoenix High School, The Curve, Shepherds Bush, London W12 0RQ