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Food Buddies – digging for victory!

Posted July 6th 2018 by Ruth

It all made perfect sense: there was a Day Centre for people with dementia, sitting right in the middle of a community garden – what an ideal opportunity to help connect older people with nature and growing their own vegetables! Peebles CAN very kindly allowed us to use their garden and resources, and we went out each week and did some hoeing, planting, weeding and watering, not to mention sitting back watching the garden grow.

We have been hearing from many older people that they had given up their gardens, either when moving into sheltered accommodation or when downsizing. In fact, it is still possible to garden on a smaller scale, and with certain adaptations, as we get older and less able. For example, we discovered seated hoeing is perfectly possible. And labelling everything, so you remember who planted it, and when, and what it is, helps everyone.

People in a garden

Every session began with a very sociable round of tea and toast, which gave us some energy for the gardening tasks ahead. This was a time to check in, get to know one another, share the local gossip and news, and even try a few word puzzles to get our brains into gear!

In our weeks of gardening we planted a whole bed of kale, which has now grown and is ready to harvest. We also had seated potting activities, planting herbs, peas and other vegetables (chosen by the older gardeners). During this time, many stories and memories were shared about wartime rationing and ‘digging for victory’. Participants also enjoyed marvelling at the unfurling of the maple leaves, and last week we had a sensory tour of the herb garden with one of the CAN volunteers.

two women gardening

This week there will be a community strawberry picking for all involved with the garden, young and old. It is always rewarding to enjoy the fruits of your labours! Hopefully, later in the year, we will be able to join in with a social event and feast of the garden produce.

people gardening

Our next step will be to try to find some suitable volunteers to come along and help make this a sustainable project, so please if you are in the Peebles area and have a little time to spare on a Thursday morning please get in touch!

This model could work well in any similar setting, there doesn’t even have to be a garden area, as long as there is space for a few pots and ideally an outside table where seated potting activities can take place. More information about Food Buddies can be found or by contacting Ruth at



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