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Reducing isolation through gardening

Posted March 3rd 2020 by Garden Buddies

The words 'Community Gardens Peebles and Innerleithen, superimposed on a garden. On the left and right 5 people are shown gardening.

Garden Buddies is a community gardening project which helps older people to keep on gardening, and enjoying the positive effects that come along with it. As we get older, our relationship with gardens and gardening changes – with research suggesting it becomes even more important for wellbeing.

Garden Buddies have lots of practice in inclusive gardening, so now they’re crowdfunding to create booklets of tips to help older adults keep well and meet people through gardening.

Getting outdoors and reducing loneliness

Whether it’s rain or shine, Garden Buddies meetups work to reduce loneliness and isolation. Having regular sessions and a local community garden to go to can make a big impact on how often people can get outside and make connections. As more people get involved, the gardeners encourage and empower each other more and warmly welcome new members to the garden.

Group of people around 2 tables in a sunny community garden.Adult and child in a sunny community garden, raking a woodchip path.

Mike’s story

“I loved to potter in the garden, but after my wife passed away I lost interest as it was something we did together.  My daughter encouraged me to go along to the local community garden.  It was great, the people were lovely and it reminded me why I loved being in the garden so much.  Now I am back in my own garden, it has taken me a while to get it back on track as I really let it go for a while there but it is really starting to take shape again and I love coming in and admiring what I have achieved.”

Enjoying new connections

As part of the project we have been listening to older people. They have been telling us how much they enjoy getting out and being in the garden, still planting and looking after the flowers, herbs and vegetables.  Some people want to keep going in the garden they’ve had for years. Others who no longer have a garden have found going along to a community garden beneficial because they can also experience the social side of community gardening.

Lesley’s story

“I’m not alone in being grateful to the garden for giving me confidence to garden. I used to try to grow vegetables at home but it wasn’t much fun and I didn’t see myself as a gardener. Since we’ve started the Secret Garden, I’m gardening and socialising with confident gardeners and I’ve absorbed their knowledge and their love of it.”

Co-operating with other people on a big relaxed project like taking care of a garden can give people the chance to make new social connections and become more confident while taking on a valuable role. Gardening rewards you when bulbs bloom into flowers and vegetables turn ripe for eating, but gardening together is socially rewarding as well!

In the words of one of the group members, Peter: “the feeling of being outside, doing something useful, being with friends and being in a lovely environment kept me coming back week after week.”

Next steps: how you can help!

We’re crowdfunding so we can deliver booklets of printed tips to help older people stay involved in gardening. Garden Buddies has gained a lot of knowledge about inclusive community gardening, so the next step is to share it!

To support our plans to make gardening more inclusive please:

  • Share our Crowdfunder, this blog post, and our social media posts about the gardening tips booklets!
  • Donate to the Crowdfunder – with a £20 donation we can buy 5 herb plants for one of the community gardens, and there are rewards for different donation levels! Even a small amount will help a lot.
  • Watch and share our video about the project and where it’s going next.
  • Spread the word about Garden Buddies and the gardening tips booklets!

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