PLANT A SEED – GROW WELL HE North West London col v2 (3) (640x421)

This was an NHS funded project. Plant a Seed – Grow Well was based around green care and related activities, working to train NHS staff working in residential and other care settings, providing them with the knowledge and confidence to develop therapeutic gardening and food growing projects within their own setting.

As part of the project we have developed two short guides which can be viewed here:

A Short Guide For Community Groups Setting Up Health Projects

A Short Guide for Health Professionals Making Referrals to Green Care Projects

Click Here to see the Plant a Seed leaflet.


Green care is using the natural environment to improve mental and physical health and wellbeing by supporting people to be active outdoors, whether that be gardening, food growing or environmental conservation work. Such activities can relieve the symptoms of serious illnesses, prevent the development of some conditions and introduce people to a way of life that can help them to improve their wellbeing longer term.

There is an ever increasing body of evidence of the benefits of green care / social prescribing:

–         Growing for Health’s report on ‘The Benefits of Gardening and Food Growing for Health and Wellbeing’ reviews current literature and highlights a compelling case for commissioning of food growing by the health service

–         MIND’s recent report ‘Feel Better Outside, Feel Better Inside’ (2013) evidenced the positive impact on mental and physical well-being of gardening based activities and horticultural therapy.

–        UCL Institute for Health Equality ‘Natural Solutions of Tackling Health Inequalities’ by Jessica Allen, Reuben Balfour (October 2014).

Green care therefore deserves the attention of health professionals, who are well placed to make it possible for people to participate in therapeutic gardening activities, wherever they live.


–        We can undertake site visits and provide bespoke plans to improve outdoor space. This could include renovating/creating raised beds and providing plants or simply helping to make the space you have more accessible to staff and patients.

–        We can offer GPs and NHS employees hands on activities or team building days to introduce the concept of green care. Alternatively we could run a training session on how to prescribe gardening and food growing to patients.

–        We can help staff identify activities they feel would benefit their patients and service users, whether that be food growing, cooking groups or relaxation walks. We would then provide staff with the training and information to go on and deliver these activities themselves. This will have numerous benefits that will improve patient’s wellbeing, such as social interaction, developing new skills and interests, relaxation, increased physical activity levels and a better understanding of a healthy lifestyle.

–        We can provide you with details of all the community food growing projects, gardening groups, allotments and green spaces within the local area of your practice. This information can then be passed on to any patients/service users you feel would benefit from such projects.

Training can be delivered with staff at their place of work, or they can attend one of our unique training venues, including the Glasshouses at Ravenscourt Park and Phoenix School Farm.

To date the project has worked with over 500 health professionals, from different healthcare backgrounds across NW London, delivering regular CPD workshops on topics such as Ecotherapy, Mindfulness, Cooking and Food Growing.

Please contact us if you’re interested in booking a session with us or referring a patient.


Prescribing Gardening: making greencare a natural part of the health service

Through the Plant a Seed Project, HCGA delivered a conference in May 2015, for healthcare professionals with Sustains Growing Health project, supported by The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. This was held at Phoenix High School in White City.

We had 79 attendees from a range of different health backgrounds and voluntary organisations. Delegates were each given a copy of Hammersmith Community Gardens Plant a Seed, Grow Well case study.

The programme included a tour of Phoenix School Farm followed by a delicious, seasonal lunch. The main conference programme then followed from 1.30pm – 4.30pm. Details of each of the speakers and links to the presentations can be found on the Sustain website

Media coverage of the conference was extensive and included:

– The front page of the Express ‘Gardening is Good for You’
Channel 5 website
BT website
– Belfast Telegraph
– Local GP and CCG member Dr Cavanagh wrote an article on Social Prescribing for GPOnline



Below are comments from health professionals that we have worked with through the Plant a Seed project:

“The Plant a Seed, Grow Well project has demonstrated the numerous benefits of incorporating the natural environment in a therapeutic setting, to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction.
The knowledge and skills I have developed from the CPD workshops has given me the confidence to trial appropriate patients for therapeutic intervention in a garden setting and to trial treatments in the hospital garden.
I believe that the knowledge and skills provided have given me the tools to adapt to a changing health care system that is shifting more on health promotion and reduced costs for services”. Bob Hollweg, Occupational Therapist.


“Overall, I feel that without the Plant a Seed project our nature therapy group would never have come into fruition. It was the catalyst for the ideas needed to structure the session plans and it provided us with a sound starting block with which to facilitate a group which we hope to replicate in the future”. Hannah McNulty, Occupational Therapist.



For hints and tips on how to carry on gardening after illness or with physical disabilities please visit Thrive’s Carry on Gardening Website.

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