Increasing numbers of volunteers have sought support for their physical and mental health through gardening at Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses (BPCG) since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The community greenhouses, based at the heart of Brockwell Park in Lambeth, run volunteer schemes, workshops and school visits, designed to educate people about gardening, whilst supporting their wellbeing.
Public Health England’s 2020 review of Improving Access to Green Space showed that adults and children with a greater exposure to green space display a range of more favourable physiological outcomes, as well as reduced levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness and fatigue and an enhanced sense of community.
Therapeutic gardener and BPCG trustee Joshua Piercey joined the charity in 2019 after feeling unfulfilled with his previous career as a copywriter and digital growth expert.
Piercey, 34, said: “The community greenhouses are somewhere people can come and see the changing of the seasons in a way that I personally think has a noticeable effect on your well-being and resilience.
“I used to be a creative dog’s body in the city and sell things to people that they didn’t want or need, but with therapeutic gardening the stats and the data are conclusive that it is of mental and physical benefit to everybody.
“It’s not snake oil, right? You don’t have to sell it because the results speak for themselves.
“People want to feel more in tune with their environment and community and be able to contribute to something, because when we were made to step away from the things we thought were crucial the sun still came up every morning, there were still hours in the day to fill and after a while you finish Netflix and you need to go out and do something different.”
The charity has seen a rise in volunteer support over lockdown, and the demographic of volunteers has also shifted to be younger and more diverse, which they attribute in part to the effects of the pandemic and is a trajectory they hope continues in the post-pandemic world.
Whether this trend continues as the world reopens is undetermined, though Piercey is hopeful it will.
He added: “There is a vital instinct for growth and betterment in plants and flowers and that is something that we can all be a part of and apply elsewhere in life.”