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Planting the seeds to promote better mental health and wellbeing


Social prescribing – non-medical treatments which have health benefits – is a key part of the NHS Long-Term Plan. GPs are linking patients with a huge range of activities including talking groups, craft sessions, book clubs, running clubs and gardening opportunities.

Time in an allotment  can build self-esteem, confidence and improve mental health and physical wellbeing for patients. Our new medical centre in Cinderford, Gloucestershire is groundbreaking in many ways, but its garden space is particularly special. Sitting alongside the building where people can access clinical care is a community area for care of a different kind: a place to meet new people, make friends and grow some tasty food.

Down To Earth Gloucestershire will run and manage the new allotment. As our Cinderford Medical Centre build completes,  managing director, Amanda Godber, tell us more:

“The development of this unused area of land will help to advance the quality of care and aftercare for patients, vulnerable people and the wider community. At the moment we’re in the early stages of forming a group, the allotments are complete, but we’ll be looking for a group of volunteers from the local area who can come together to grow and share organic vegetables and maintain the surgery grounds.

“The benefits of allotments are countless, but they provide a safe space to be with a community of people to support each other, share a giggle and a cup of tea and give purpose. There is a growing body of evidence to support gardening and horticultural therapy use in patients with improving a wide range of conditions, including physical and mental health problems and helping with obesity, lack of exercise, healthy eating, stress, anxiety and social isolation.”

What makes you most excited about the new allotment?

“Meeting the volunteers, seeing the group and garden grow and developing the community.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a community allotment?

“It takes time! Don’t expect too much too soon, plod on, and as people find out about it, they’ll get involved.

We’ve seen incredible communities building around allotments through other schemes at our buildings such as Dovercourt Medical Centre and Porthcawl Medical Centre, and we can’t wait to see the impact that this beautiful allotment has for Cinderford.