Our aim is to improve mental health and reduce loneliness and isolation through horticulture, and have worked with a range of individuals including asylum seekers, people who are recovering from substance misuse, long-term unemployed and people with mental health challenges. Anyone can join our growing sessions and after several lockdowns many people have found a session at the garden can be a beneficial experience.
Research has shown the benefits of horticulture: better physical health through exercise and mobility; better mental health through sense of purpose; opportunity to connect with others; reduced feelings of isolation/exclusion; learn new skills improving employment prospects.
March 2022 saw the completion of our Volunteering Wales Grant, this Welsh Government funding has enabled us to offer our volunteers more time, more in house training, regular sessions and we are so proud of the fantastic team that has been created!
We had some great feedback from our evaluation:
- 100% of respondents met people and made new friends and 90% of respondent felt satisfied from talking to others. Respondents reported that the sense of community helped them to build confidence and communication skills in a supportive environment.
- 100% of respondents learnt how to grow and care for plants. They met their goals to learn about growing salad and other plants and general gardening knowledge.
- There was a strong positive impact on volunteer wellbeing with 90% of respondents reporting that they felt relaxed and 80% saying their mood improved often or all the time.
- Respondents enjoyed getting out of the house and being active.
- Respondents found volunteering to be fulfilling and rewarding. 80% said they felt useful and satisfied from hard work after being in the garden. Respondents felt proud to be seen as part of Cardiff Salad Garden and feel that they were contributing to the wider community.
The year started in lock down with the continuation of our at home growing sessions, with doorstep delivery of plants and seeds to grow, alongside zoom sessions. This turned into small group socially distanced, book in sessions, this enabled people from the home growing sessions to once again come on site.
In June we hosted the Salad Circle in Bute Park and distributed 1000s of vegetable plants to people from Cardiff, we ran 10 interactive workshops, hosted a Big Lunch and a children’s play. Through the year 36 people volunteered at the garden in group sessions with refreshments, talks and a real sense of community created within our garden. We had great attendance with 88% people coming for multiple sessions and 59% coming regularly for over 3-month periods. In July 2021 we received funding from The Volunteering Wales Grant through WCVA, Welsh Government funding to expand our volunteering opportunities and began 4 hour sessions twice a week at the garden. As part of this we started work with Grassroots Youth Service to create a nature garden near Cardiff Castle, enabling young people with Asperger’s to volunteer and create a quiet garden space young people can use and enjoy.
Salad was delivered by bike to over 40 regular household customers and 11 restaurants, cycling over 800 miles in the year. Over 850kg of salad was sold and over 30kg was given to volunteers.
In 2020 we delivered to a mixture of restaurants and homes, at our peak we made over 150 deliveries a week to households in Cardiff. We’ve had 5 volunteer delivery cyclists, they cycled over 800 miles to deliver salad during the year.
We held zoom meet ups for our volunteers with groups of 6-8 people regularly attending. 10 volunteers were involved in Cardiff Salad Garden growing on site and at home.
We grew pumpkins, courgettes, peas beans, chard, lettuces and herb and salad plants and gave out over 4000 plants to over 150 additional households in Cardiff.
In 2019, 27 adults and 6 children attended volunteer opportunities at the garden with 59% adults coming for multiple sessions and 37% coming regularly for over 4 months
We also engaged with over 15 other individuals who visited the garden to exchange knowledge or work together for example volunteer coordinators, youth projects, academics, other community groups in Cardiff. We held 8 tours of the garden with groups of the general public, held on our annual open-day and throughout the year organised by Cardiff City Council, this has given over 160 people an insight into the garden and our work.
In 2019 we sold salad to 20 restaurants and caterers (15 as regular weekly orders in the summer) and 11 individuals buying weekly amounts. Approx. 25 kg of salad was donated to volunteers at the end of sessions at the garden.