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Maryhill Therapeutic Gardening Project looking to 'grow' across Moray

By Ewan Malcolm

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ORGANISERS of a unique therapy garden in Elgin which launched on September 21 are hoping to expand across Moray.

Georgia Brooker (left) and Karen Higginbottom (right) of REAP will run the sessions in the garden at Elgin's Maryhill Heath Centre. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Georgia Brooker (left) and Karen Higginbottom (right) of REAP will run the sessions in the garden at Elgin's Maryhill Heath Centre. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

The Maryhill Therapeutic Garden is run by the Rural Environmental Action Project (REAP). It aims to use gardening as a way to build resilience in mental health among people with low to moderate mental health conditions, mild physical disabilities and individuals experiencing isolation.

After securing the funding to launch through the the National Lottery Community Fund, REAP Manager Ann Davidson is hoping success at Maryhill will lead to more sessions across Moray.

"That's the dream really," she said.

"We would ideally have more sessions elsewhere in Moray. If it works at Maryhill then there is no reason that it couldn't work anywhere else in the area.

"It's a first for Moray though, but if people like the idea and it helps people then it could be a really good success throughout a lot of Moray.

"It obviously needs that funding so we can bring in mental health professionals. It's not something you can just do.

"We're starting in a small way but with the hope of growing in the future."

Funding had been secured prior to the pandemic but it was deferred after it became clear that REAP would not be able to host its gardening sessions.

Many people's mental health suffered during lockdown which is why its more vital than ever to launch projects that can help people, believes Ms Davidson.

"This is great timing for this initiative," she said.

"It's a great option for people who fancy working in a lovely garden space in a peaceful environment.

"It's very easy to get to and really accessible. This is a really nice thing for people to get out of lockdown to socialise and work together for a nice community outcome.

"All this work is dependant on the funding so we are grateful to the National Lottery for deferring it until now.

"We're now in a position where we can run the sessions and help people with mental health issues at our Maryhill site."

Participants will take part in activities such as sowing seeds, growing veg, learning about composting and harvesting vegetables to take home. There will also be an opportunity to socialise during tea breaks. During the winter, cooking sessions using vegetables from the garden will be held indoors.

Sessions will take place on Tuesday afternoons from 2pm until 5pm and on Friday mornings from 10am until 12.30pm at the Maryhill garden site in Elgin.

People interested in taking part can be referred by their GP or a mental health professional.

More information can be found here or by emailing Project Manager Ania Konarska at ania@reapscotland.org.uk.

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