Mental Health Awareness Week: getting out in the garden!
12 May 2021

With over 100 trained Mental Health First Aiders, a dedicated Mental Health Committee and Mind as its company charity, Vistry is continually progressing and raising awareness of mental health. The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 10th ?" 16th May, is nature. Across the country, people will be celebrating the mental health benefits of being around nature in their local community in a range of digital and creative ways. Vistry will be recognising the theme by sharing a series of stories from staff on how they have connected with nature. In the third article this week, we’re sharing a story from Head of Graphic Design, Julian Spry, who talks about the benefits of his allotment and growing his own vegetables. “I started growing in my allotment over 10 years ago. I hadn’t really done much gardening before this, but I just wanted to try my hand at growing my own vegetables. “The allotment in Tewkesbury is only about half a mile down the road, so I applied for a plot via the Tewkesbury Allotment Association. There was a long waiting list, but and after three years I managed to get a space. “It’s a big area to look after, so I decided to start small and work my way up. A mistake that a lot of people make is being over enthusiastic and planting too many things straight away. It then becomes too much to look after and is a lot work. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go on the plots around me following this mistake! “I grow all sorts. At the moment I’m harvesting spinach, rhubarb, asparagus, leeks and purple sprouting and in the summer months, I’ll have green beans, beetroot, raspberries, courgettes, tomatoes, lettuce ?" to name just a few things! Later in the year there’ll be kale and parsnips ?" all sorts!! I usually try a few news things each year and see how I go. I like to grow vegetables and varieties you don’t find in supermarkets. For example, I grow Crown Prince pumpkins, which are delicious and you can’t buy from the shop. I also managed to get some rare breed seeds that I’ve replanted every year. I can’t say I really research or have any secret tricks to growing ?" I just stick it in the ground and wait to see if it grows. Over time, I’ve learnt a lot ?" more by trial and error. When I first started, I just gave it a go and it seems to be paying off! “It’s a great place to go and get away from things. After sitting indoors all day, there’s nothing quite like going outside, having all this space around, and getting your hands dirty. It really is quite therapeutic. Its also a great place to go with the kids! My son loves coming to the allotment with me. He sits in the deck chair, chilling with an ice cream watching everything going on. It’s really relaxing. I usually go down there a couple of times a week, but during the summer it’ll be more and, in the winter, less. What’s interesting, during the time I’ve been there, I’ve noticed a lot more younger people down there ?" it doesn’t seem like it’s a hobby just for retired people anymore! I definitely used to be in the minority and was one of the youngest down there ?" but maybe that’s just because I’m getting old myself!! It definitely helps to keep me healthy, not only is it good exercise, but we’ve also got loads of fresh fruit and vegetables to eat! Home grown really is so much tastier than what you buy in the supermarkets too. It’s win-win all round!” ‘Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years’

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