The social enterprise that aids 
mental health through gardening

Growing food to help those with mental health issues is at the heart of Ealing's MindFood scheme.

The scheme, founded in 2012, is a social enterprise designed to get people digging and growing in order to cope with mental health issues, as well as supplying healthy 'good mood food’ to restaurants and delivery services in the area.

MindFood project worker for Mind in Ealing and Hounslow and former participant Lucy Clark said: "We are a ‘doing’ therapy rather than a ‘talking’ therapy – it’s something you can do to empower yourself to recover."

Ms Clark found MindFood when they moved from Amersham to Hanger Lane, at a point when she was recovering from depression and burnout.

Ms Clark said it was through MindFood and the gardening charity Thrive that the path of her life changed.

She said: "I went along to the six-week Growing Wellbeing programme and got the bug, and then had a bit more time to think about my priorities and released I need to leave the business world to train in social and therapeutic horticulture."

MindFood's six-week programme focuses on the 'five ways to wellbeing’ in a food growing setting, while the scheme also offers the 12-week Plot to Plate course, which trains participants to grow and sell produce.

The scheme is part-funded by the generosity of trusts and regular givers, but Ms Clark said the ideal situation would be when food sales can make them independent.

She said: "The cost of mental health is huge and often does not receive a fair share of funding, so bringing it into the spotlight is helpful in making it less stigmatised.

Mental health permeates every aspect of people's lives and is very complex, but there’re so many things people can do for free to help themselves to make a difference to their own mental health."

The above article by Jenny Desborough first published on ealingtimes.co.uk in Jan, 2017.