Summary: Inspiration, training and support in establishing own gardening projects
Where: Berlin, Germany
Collaborators: Die GRÜNE LIGA Berlin and Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt
The project entitled ‘Growing together - gardening as a contribution to integration’ is an initiative run by the Green Liga and supported by the Berlin Senate. It aims to include all Berliners who are interested in community growing and developing gardening skills. Local associations, neighbourhood groups, cooperatives, businesses, schools, shelters, refugee homes, disability support, and all interested citizens are welcome to develop their own gardening initiatives. Green Liga inspires, motivates and supports new gardening projects in local communities by organising seminars and workshops on community gardening as well as providing individual and community consultations.
In 2016, over 20 community gardening initiatives were undertaken throughout Berlin as part of the project: flowerbeds in courtyards, community gardens in local neighbourhoods and in emergency shelters, and school projects. Green Liga also runs a competition for the best gardening initiative that champions inclusion, integration and wellbeing.
What: Post trauma mental health support through gardening
Where: London, UK
Collaborators: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (Slam), Maudsley Charity, and horticultural project Roots and Shoots.
For 10 years the project has provided therapeutic gardening and psychotherapy to refugees and asylum seekers suffering from mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many who use the service have been affected by trafficking, torture, violence and rape, and have been referred by mental health services at the Southwark PTSD trauma unit. Prior experience that clients have in gardening varies: some are very experienced, whereas others are complete novices.
Gemma Eke, a clinical psychologist from Slam, explains how many of their service users with PTSD are in need of routine in their lives, and that involvement in a facilitated gardening project can help to provide this. Initially, clients attend a 10-week course in a group, wherein they are taught skills to manage their mental health, after which they are invited to return for a weekly gardening session. According to Gemma Eke, gardening as a tool for psychotherapy not only helps clients to ‘concentrate better’ and ‘to be present’, but also develops social relationships and trust. Asylum seekers who take part in the project often refer to powerful metaphors in relation to gardening and recovery. As one participant said: “When I see the corn growing I think, although my life has been demolished, I can still grow again.”