Community Matters: Regenerative Gardening Courses at Llanfellte

The Fathom Trust

The shift for me is from can't do to can do. My anxiety is mellowed when i'm here. Also, everyone has 'stuff' no matter what it is. We all have our own things to manage. Part of the healing is to realise that I'm not alone.

This new project came about through a common interest among Making Well participants to learn more about regenerative gardening, including the growing of vegetables, herbs and cut flowers. Past participants also wanted a space to return to Llanfellte after Making Well, for a continued sense of participation and connection, as well as to continue to grow their newly formed friendships and sense of community. For the Making Well team, these sessions provide a continuation of our community craft as care work and provide more social and therapeutic opportunities to help individuals maintain their overall sense of wellbeing and connection. We also opened these sessions as a referral pathway between PAVO local community groups, local Dementia support groups and local mental health charity Brecon & District Mind. This has given us the means to create a wheel-chair accessible garden with purpose built raised beds and garden shelter along with the start of our Apothecary garden.

The project offers an open-group format for previous Making Well participants to attend, as well as opportunities for new members making first contact with Fathom. The sessions will continue throughout 2024 evolving into a monthly community day, which we are calling ‘Our Skills’ Community Land Days. At present a team of 2 people facilitators run the project, Jess Tanner, ecotherapist & horticulturist, Ella Wise, woodland manager, coppicer and recent Black Mountains College graduate, and Fathom Trust volunteer Kim Silcock provides invaluable support. We are supporting a core weekly group of 5-6 participants, but we hope to keep growing this number from spring’24 onwards. We acknowledge the challenge for some being outside in the winter weather and how this might be impacting our group numbers at present.

Extracts from Nature Notes received from Making Well participants:

On Noticing Nature:

How quickly I was able to get totally immersed in the process of ‘noticing’ instead of being in inner turmoil/dialogue. Having someone actively listening for as long as I needed facilitated this.

I noticed what a centreing and comforting activity seed sowing and watering the compost can be. The bird chorus coming from the nearby woods felt like a concert hall, I got really drawn in.

How satisfying it was to make something from everyday things from the garden. I realise that there is so much that I could do in my own garden, even utilising old tools and wheelbarrows to make features. My mind is whizzing! The garden session was so easy and gave me joy planting the pots. I am starting to believe that outside is where I need to be.

On Social Inclusion:

Warmth of community here, and in nature. Both worked in harmony today. The laughter, despite my lack of crafting ability.

The clarity of sound around me. The enthusiasm within the session and how connected everyone felt.

It was good to see that I found plenty of energy and humour within myself despite being in a very tricky life situation. It feels as if I am finally building resilience, which is great.

I’m more able to ask for help, and more aware of when I need to.

On Mental Wellbeing:

I arrived tired out and exhausted from ‘hanging on’ in the ‘outside world’ and needed all day to arrive, get grounded and shed the inner weight/tension. Feeling so much lighter and better now after the craft session and ‘counselling walk’ Thanks once again for offering this space and all the support and nourishment for body and soul!

I noticed a shift from being ‘in my head’ and a lot of physical tension towards a much more easeful

feeling. This allowed enjoyment to come to the forefront and being in the moment.

The feeling of warmth from others. Feeling more relaxed and calmer knowing that the ‘weather’ within me was going to change for the better during my day.