GROW initiative to boost wellbeing

Lily Carter learns more about a horticultural initiative designed to help people’s mental health and enhance the availability of nutritious food

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(30637069)

A MENTAL-HEALTH organisation has launched a new horticultural community initiative which aims to support Islanders’ wellbeing by creating an inclusive, outdoor space.

Thrive Jersey has set up the project – GROW – as part of its wider goal to identify and address social factors which drive low mood.

The team behind GROW is now appealing to Islanders to help with the scheme which will see a 13 vergée plot of land transformed into an organic, sustainable, multi-crop and educational site for the community. The site in St John will be converted through the planting and harvesting of a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, to be distributed to those in Jersey who do not have ready access to nutritious food.

‘Lockdown has reminded us of the restorative impact getting outdoors can have,’ said mental-health campaigner Andy Le Seelleur, who is the founder of Thrive Jersey. ‘We want to harness the positive energy of “vitamin nature” and create a nurturing, inclusive environment where people can benefit from growing, harvesting, collaborating and learning new skills. By working together and taking a holistic approach we can make meaningful changes.’

The first assignment of the project was to plant approximately 150 apple, pear and other fruit and nut trees by the end of March. The trees, which are to be arranged in alleys, will then be interspersed with fruit bushes and a range of herbs, berries, vegetables and pollinating flowers.

Environmentalist Sheena Brockie, who designed the project site, said GROW had ‘sustainability at its core’.

She added: ‘We plan on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through regenerative land management practices, and also by replacing annual crops with perennial fruit and nut trees to increase the carbon storage potential. I am excited by the vast array of opportunities this site will provide, from the physical and mental health benefits for the people who will join us, outside and connecting to nature, to the vital role we have as guardian of this land, to protect and value our environment.’

The site – which is located near the border between St Helier and St John – has been approved for the scheme, and the team is working in partnership with St Helier parish officials to develop the field.

‘The parish is always keen to support and be part of projects, like GROW – projects that create new experiences and bring our community together,’ said Jason Turner, chief executive officer of St Helier. ‘Spending time on the GROW site will create opportunities to start up new conversations, meet people you might not usually meet, share experiences and build friendships. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for our skilled parks and garden team to share their experience and talent and I know they are really keen to get involved.’

The project team can be contacted by email at enquiries@growtogether.je for more information on how to get involved.

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