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Conference explores mental health benefits of community growing

Monday 23 April 2018

A CONFERENCE exploring the physical and mental health benefits of community growing and care farming is being held at the University of Salford.

The Growing Better Lives 2018 conference, sponsored by The Mayfield Partnership, is being held at the University on April 24-25.

Aimed at community growing and care farming practitioners, health commissioners, policy makers and academics, the conference will reflect on the increasingly strong body of evidence about the positive influence of farming and gardening in care and health contexts. It will look at how best to harness those positive benefits in the future.

New organisation

Growing Better Lives 2018 will also mark the official launch of a major new organisation following the merger of the Federation of City Farms And Community Gardens and Care Farming UK. 

The new organisation, whose name will be unveiled at the conference, will build on the work of the two current organisations, representing and supporting the delivery of care services and community development through farming and gardening activities.

The conference will:

Recent research 

Much recent research has shown how city farms, community gardens and other community managed green spaces have an vital impact on health, wellbeing, education and sustainable development of community facilities, often in deprived areas. 

Meanwhile, care farming in the UK has grown in prominence in the last decade as an effective form of health and social care - so much so that the expansion of care farming in the UK was mentioned this week in DEFRA’s 25 year environmental plan.

An exciting list of speakers are already confirmed for the conference including: Dr Rachel Bragg from the University of Essex, Dr Mike Hardman and Dr Michelle Howarth from the University of Salford, Pam Warhurst, founder of the international Incredible Edible voluntary gardening initiative, and Kathryn Rossiter from Thrive, which uses gardening to help people with disabilities or ill health.

Next level

Dr Michael Hardman, Lecturer in Geography at the University of Salford, said: “This important event will see two of the UK’s premier organisations for growing and farming coming together, enabling the national movement to move to the next level. 

“At the University of Salford, we are working with such organisations on research around urban agriculture, care farming and social prescribing, with the event enabling our research to be shown to a range of key actors in these fields.”

Dr Michelle Howarth, Senior Nursing Lecturer at the University, said: “This is a timely conference providing a fabulous opportunity to debate the impact that contact with nature can have on health and wellbeing – and importantly, the value of these service for NHS and health & social care practitioners.” 

Go here for more information.