Gardening is good for you

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According to Mr George Eustice,  Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, there’s nothing like a spot of gardening to “ease the pressure on the NHS”. An article in The Times newspaper of Monday, July 20, notes that there is to be a £4 million pilot project, sites yet to be confirmed, to start this autumn, in the provision of green prescriptions and it went on to explain about the scheme.

In the view of The Times, “fresh air, exercise, regular activity and psychological uplift” are the result of people “being told to attend outdoor exercise classes, plant trees or visit natural beauty spots”. Perhaps this includes Barnard Castle?

Anyway, this is all very excellent and Mr Eustice is to be applauded for such an initiative, but I would like to highlight one local scheme that I have discovered all by myself, though with more than a little help from a friend and neighbour.

The houses where we live back on to the river and we have very little outdoor space. We would like to be able to do more gardening, but in spite of our best efforts, we have not been able to make any progress in getting an allotment – emails and contact us forms had born no fruit, so to speak – so other avenues for green gardening had to be explored.

Over the fence

Rye Community Garden lies at the heart of our town, off Love Lane, My neighbour saw an advert for volunteering  there, so we decided to give it a try last Saturday. All we had to do was turn up between 11am and 1pm with our gardening gloves. Mine, muddy but serviceable were not hard to locate. My friend had to make a foray to our local supermarket and managed to find a pair more suitable for an electrician, but they would serve the purpose.

Allotments en route to Love Lane

Off we went on a beautiful summer morning, to find first the composting loo, then the gate to the garden, complete with a very clear notice of events. We walked past the side of the allotments into a kind of orchard and came upon a very helpful organiser called Anna. She couldn’t have been more welcoming and explained what goes on and that she is the paid coordinator, with funding for this year, as well as last.

We were soon set the task of weeding the path leading from the gate and were shortly joined by another first time volunteer. All the tools and buckets we needed were provided, social distancing was carefully observed and we set to. After about an hour, we had a weed free path and were able to clear the edges as well. I have to say it was very rewarding.

I had had enough by then, as I am not as flexible as I used to be, not helped by spraining my foot by catching it in a rabbit hole and falling over on visiting one of Mr Eustice’s beauty spots. Not Barnard Castle. Peasmarsh fields would be nearer the mark.

The composting toilet

I think this project is wonderful and much hard work must have gone into setting up and getting it to this organised state. I shall become a regular attendee, even if I can only manage an hour, and I hope volunteers old and new will continue their support. Links have been put into this article, as it has been regularly reported on over the years, but not everyone will realise that it is open again, with all the correct procedures, and a number will be unable to help due to shielding and underlying health problems. The next event, to be found on the Facebook page, is on Saturday, July 25, gardening and veggie harvesting. Our very own green prescription on our doorstep.

Image Credits: Gillian Roder , Nick Forman .

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