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Our Horticultural Therapist, Natalie, has been busy in 2017 developing our therapeutic gardening projects in the CSGN area. The project currently covers six garden sites, and we have now provided 65 therapeutic gardening sessions, attended by an average of 50 participants per week, lasting 2.5 hours per session. Natalie has provided us with a quick update of how the projects have progressed so far.

At each of the gardens, residents and community participants live with a range of additional support needs, including mental health (depression and schizophrenia), autism, acquired brain injury, physical disabilities (such as vision impairment, mobility impairment) and learning difficulties.

During the introductory phase of the project, we explored creative approaches to dismantling obstacles and barriers to engagement and participation by combining physical, mental, emotional, kinaesthetic and sensory learning approaches to sessions, dependent upon additional support need. Baseline preliminary observations of participants are now completed and, in the new year, therapeutic support plans will commence at most of the sites that will support individuals to use their garden sessions to meet their wider therapeutic goals, for example building confidence and developing routine.

At the Rutherglen site, which benefited from support from the Greggs Foundation, developments are now complete and participants are looking forward to their first full growing season in 2018. At the Alexandria, East Kilbride and Greenock sites, the groups have recently moved from the participatory design process into an active therapeutic build phase, with goals for preparing growing space set for spring 2018. At Paisley and Kilmarnock, we will use contractors to complete the phase 1 builds in 2018. Highlights have been a community award for the East Kilbride project presented at the Scottish Parliament (for espalier orchard design), the completion of hedging and wild-life pond at Alexandria, the draft development of a wheel-chair accessible Japanese themed court-yard garden at Kilmarnock and, most importantly lots of happy, smiling faces in the gardens.