17 May 2017
In our mission to explore and promote the importance of a mutually beneficial relationship between citizens and the environment in delivering Wales’ Well-being Goals, Catherine Miller, Environet Manager visits participants of CAIS’s Seeds2Grow project - to see how nature and horticultural activities can serve as an effective form of therapy in combating stress, depression and worklessness.
At the side of the River Clwyd in St. Asaph, hidden away there
is a quiet space brimming with horticultural activity. At a small
farmland site people are taking advantage of the quiet surroundings
to spend time outdoors growing vegetables and taking in what nature
has to offer.
The activity is part of the Seeds 2 Grow project, which is run
by CAIS and funded by the ESF programme - Active Inclusion
CAIS work to help people improve their physical and emotional
wellbeing to lead happier and healthier lives. Their Seeds2Grow
project enables people with work limiting health conditions, such
as low self esteem or issues with alcohol, to come along to the
farm and work on the land. Working on the land and building
interest in horticulture, whilst gaining skills and a qualification
in land based activities,has proved priceless for many of the
people engaged in the seeds 2 grow project.
Kay Ribbons-Steen is the Project Manager for the Seeds 2 Grow
project and spends time at the farm with engaged participants, she
is a former countryside warden with a passion for the outdoors. Kay
helps teach participants the basics in horticulture from growing
vegetables to maintaining a wildlife pond. She tells me 'the
participants very often come along to the farm reluctantly, unsure
of what to expect but more often than not are soon taken in by the
peace and tranquillity of the place and see it as a bit of an
escape from the day to day norm'. Kay goes on to explain about one
participant in particular that had never spent much time outdoors
and was surprised to learn that the tiny black tadpoles in the pond
would soon become frogs - 'This lady was from a hard to engage
background, she took some persuading that the farm may be a place
where she would like to spend time.
Project Participant with seeds being grown in the farm's
Once there she gradually opened up to the idea and has since spent
time learning the basics of horticulture with other participants.
The change in her perception of nature and its value is fantastic
to see, it has definitely helped with her approach to looking for a
job and her general state of mind'.
The enthusiasm displayed by the people down at the farm is
testament to the direct link between nature and well-being. The
people engaged on CAIS's farm project have all come from hard to
reach backgrounds with work limiting health conditions that can act
as complete barriers to traditional engagement; but thanks to the
Active Inclusion Fund and CAIS they are now engaged, socialising
and learning new skills - which is an invaluable opportunity.
CAIS offer job hunting support to all of their participants - job
searches, CV writing and qualifications are achieved. The
difference here is that they are nowhere near a traditional
classroom setting, which is very often a big deterrent for people
who have been out of employment and training for a while.
What may seem like a small step to some people can very often be a
huge step for someone who has become largely disengaged from
society. In recognition of the practical demonstration of how
working outdoors is helping people's well-being, Kay adds 'Many of
the participants of the project have been out of work for a long
time and spent their days largely indoors with little social
interaction or inclination to look for training and employment.
Being outdoors and doing activities in peaceful surroundings has a
therapeutic and re-energising effect on people's outlook and
All done for the day - Peaceful surroundings at the CAIS Farm, St.
The CAIS farm environment and the achievements made by the
enthused participants demonstrate the positive impact of nature and
the outdoors in helping people to open up, overcome their barriers
and takes steps towards sustained employment and very importantly -
an increased level of well-being.
Active Inclusion funding is available throughout Wales; find out
more on WCVA's website at /funding/wcva-funding/active-inclusion-fund
Find out more about how we can invest in nature to improve
environmental sustainability and improve the well-being of
communities with Environet's new resources, now available for
download from at
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