A team of hard-working field sales representatives voluntarily mucked in and got their hands dirty by helping to build a purpose-built vegetable garden in the grounds of The Trinity Holistic Centre based at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Complementing and redeveloping parts of the existing enclosed garden area at the rear of the building, the area will improve facilities for all patients, carers and staff providing a more functional and therapeutic space and environment.
The vegetable garden is the first part of an overall ‘gardening project’, which is being funded initially by National Lottery operator Camelot with further contributions being sought from other charity organisations and individuals. A number of targeted projects are currently being planned including one by Macmillan specifically for patients who are living with and beyond cancer.
The ten-strong team of Camelot employees helped build flower and vegetable beds, load the soil and compost in and plant up the vegetables all within a day. They were assisted by Stephen Bell, health and safety adviser at the trust, Gary Taylor, a joiner from Carillion and one of the centre’s volunteers, Ray Wheatley, who developed initial ideas and planned the project with Stephen.
The gardening project follows input from a wide range of specialist personnel within the hospital and following research guidelines carried out from looking at similar projects in the UK and abroad. The research showed very positive results on both physical and mental improvements from all of the groups, whether either simply sitting on a bench or performing easy gardening tasks, like seed planting, weeding, and cultivating flowers and plants.
Heather McLean, business manager at the centre, said: “We are very excited about this project and can’t thank ‘Team Camelot’ enough for their help in getting it up and running. The development of accessible gardening in a supportive therapeutic environment will be a great benefit for our patients, carers and staff.”
“The final phase of the project is the installing of a sensory garden, which is hoped will commence before the end of the summer. The vegetable patches aim to encourage healthy eating and patients will be able to replicate all activities safely at home adding to their weekly exercise and activity levels.”