Our Staff Wellbeing Garden
In 2021 we created a staff wellbeing garden at Frome Medical Practice. The garden was built with the support of the partners at the practice, our landlord Assura and The Walled Garden at Mells. The area where the garden now stands was previously an area of plain turf, lacking in biodiversity and not used by any of us who work at the practice.
The garden, which is visible from several areas inside the practice, now features a series of raised beds and a composting area. The raised beds are managed by volunteers from within the staff team at the practice. Assura (who own the building) donated hot composters to us in 2022 and the team are now learning more about composting. Thanks to our colleagues at Loop:Frome for sharing their knowledge and experience of this aspect of gardening with us.
We’ve also installed a bench, donated thanks to the generosity of the children, parents and staff at the Avanti Park School in Frome.
Why have we created the garden?
Our garden isn’t just a space about pretty flowers, lovely as they are. It’s a space about staff wellbeing, where we hope to enrich the local biodiversity and where we also want to contribute to our ‘closed loop’ system at the practice (more on that later!)
Named the Staff Wellbeing Garden for good reason, the space is easy to access and visible from any part of the building. It creates a valuable opportunity for any of our 140 staff, from clinical staff to our support teams, to pause and enjoy stress free minutes in their busy, pressured days.
Our staff wellbeing garden is an example of the value of providing green spaces for people to enjoy. The garden is contributing to the wellbeing of our team. And we are enjoying the benefits of field to fork - a reduction in food miles - by producing food that the team can enjoy,
We are also providing an area that contributes to our local biodiversity.
The owners of the Frome Medical Centre building, Assura, have generously donated two hot composters to our garden. We previously collected staff food waste, but this was sent to landfill. Now we have the means to convert this into nutrient rich compost that we can use in the garden. This is what we call ‘closing the loop’.
The garden is helping us all to learn in many ways.
The volunteers who are tending the garden are learning about planting, growing, harvesting, composting and about the wildlife that is enjoying the garden too.
We have weekly opportunities for staff who don’t have specific responsibility for one of the raised beds in the garden to come and help out and learn more about the garden and what we are doing with it.
Patients are noticing what’s happening in the garden and are learning too. We’ve installed patient information screens to share more information about the garden and to encourage conversations about the garden within our local community.
What do the team think about the garden?
Here's what some of the team have said about the wellbeing garden and what it means for them.
Natali Jones, First Contact Practitioner
The use of the garden not only provides me with peace and serenity at work but it has also been a source to be able to socialise (initially from a distance!) with fellow gardeners.
The well-being garden is always somewhere that I can go to check my flowers, do some weeding, grow seedlings and nurture my plants. These activities are so simple yet for me give me sometimes a much-needed bit of headspace and distraction from the stresses of life.
Seeing flowers blooming or new insects buzzing around the garden allow me to re-connect with nature and evoke feeling of accomplishment and happiness for me.
What is planned next for the wellbeing garden?
We are planning regular, informal education sessions for staff on composting, gardening and using the outdoor space. In the summer months we also have regular staff wellbeing walks and led tours around the Wellbeing Garden. We will open some of these sessions up to the public too.
We’ve planted Yellow Rattle in areas of the garden. Yellow Rattle is an important plant in the creation of perennial wildflower meadows, many of which have been lost in this country in recent years. So we are looking forward to seeing how this establishes itself and if we can introduce other wildflowers into a meadowy area in future years.
We are going to start to measure the environmental impact of the garden - how much carbon does it save, for example? What new biodiversity are we seeing in the garden?
We are also planning to develop a Community Healing Space, an area that will be used for cultivating herbs traditionally used medicinally, that the team will be able to enjoy in their cooking or as tea for example.
We hope to eventually have a cafe back at the practice and would love to see produce grown in the garden used in the cafe. Waste food from the cafe will also increase our composting capacity.
This project is just in its beginnings and we look forward to it developing and growing, and seeing the many advantages it will bring to us all.
Our staff wellbeing garden has been created with help from the following organisations, who we are extremely grateful to:
- National Lottery Climate Action Fund - for the funding of our Green Health Connector role, who supports the work we are doing in the garden
- Assura - for embracing the ideas we had about developing this space and for the donation of two hot composters
- Gareth, our Digital Data and Technology Manager, who has been the driving force behind the garden
- The Walled Garden at Mells - for their planting and growing advice and donation of plants
- Loop:Frome - for all their advice and support about composting
- Avanti Park School - for the donation of the garden bench
- Hannah Carding - local illustrator for her beautiful drawings of our garden
- All the staff who are giving their time to the garden, creating a beautiful space that we can all enjoy!
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