The Beauty of Our Outdoor Space

Water fountain at the allotment

This year highlighted the important role green space plays in our lives and the benefits to mental health, which result from spending time outside in nature. The Allotment Project has proven invaluable during these difficult times as a sanctuary for people to reconnect with nature, themselves and each other. Allotment activity was allowed during all restrictions when other projects had to adapt to remote activity. So it felt particularly important to invest time and resources into guaranteeing the experience we offered was safe and supportive.

Staff and volunteers worked together to ensure as many people as possible could benefit from the garden, which has served to strengthen and sustain our local community throughout the pandemic. People who had become even more isolated than before, as well as having much less opportunity to be active, were given the opportunity to spend time in the safety of our garden. All the food grown ensured the emergency meals provided by the Food For All catering team were rich in nutrients and we also managed to distribute flowers with these deliveries.

Relationships have flourished at the plot whilst people have been unable to see family, colleagues, friends or their support network. People have learned new skills and built confidence with some securing their own allotments with plans to support their communities.

Networks have formed with other green organisations in Manchester and businesses and individuals have donated time, money and energy towards our growth. We are now not only a fully functioning vegetable garden, but recognised and supported as a refuge from life’s struggles; an enriching and therapeutic opportunity for people to take care of themselves.

“Gardening is an inclusive activity. Prejudices and stigma are easily broken down as people work together.”

The mindful activity and the peer support enables therapeutic management of health conditions and it really is a positive space for growth. In many ways the pandemic allowed this project to flourish; the space has transformed and our network has grown. We will not say we are grateful for the year that has passed, but we are proud of what we have been able to provide, and we are delighted that the benefits of green activity have been more widely recognised.

Tara Kinsella, Food For All Service Manager

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