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Social Therapeutic Horticulture Update – March 2024

Our Social Therapeutic Horticulture lead, Jane, tell us what the groups have been working on throughout March.

What we’ve been up to

It has been slightly better weather this month with a few sunnier days hinting at better things to come. We have been busy spreading compost to help feed soil life in the tunnel and outdoor beds. This addition of Organic matter will boost soil ecosystems and ensures healthy and nutritious crops.
The participants of both morning and afternoon groups enjoyed continuing to sow seeds and prick out seedlings into modules. Sweet peas in the tunnels are starting to clamber upwards and the Ranunculus are just starting to flower. These will soon be for sale in bouquets.
We look forward to longer days and warmer weather and plenty more seed sowing in April!

A farewell

The groups said a heartfelt farewell to Kate Barrett who has been a volunteer, and latterly a paid practitioner, for the Friday STH groups. We were sorry to see Kate leave since she has been a wonderful addition to the team, bringing kindness, good humour, craft skills galore and lots of cake to the groups! Everyone wishes her well in her move to Herefordshire where Kate will continue work as an STH practitioner. Kate McNicol, who has been a fantastic volunteer and has completed her THRIVE training, will be taking on the role.

Flower farming for female veterans

A graduate of Veteran Blooms receiving her certificate

Last week we completed the 8 week pilot all female veteran flower farming course, Veteran Blooms, in partnership with Veteran Outreach Support. This was a green therapy initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, teaching vulnerable veterans the skills of growing cut flowers.


Our final session saw a trip to Ed Bowring’s flower farming venture in Funtington. The course was a huge success and made a real impact on the 7 clients that attended. Clients gave us fantastic feedback and many formed good relations with each other that will carry on outside of the course.

We are extremely grateful to Southern Co-operative for their support in funding this pioneering course. Recruitment is already in progress for the second course that starts early May. This course and the third in September, have been sponsored by a grant from the Armed Forces Covenant. If you know of a female veteran that might benefit from the course please do get in touch.

Sow and Thrive Green Therapy Alternative Provision Project

Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council have awarded us funding to run four new 10 week community gardening programmes. Community Gardening is a horticulture programme focusing on skills development to support people who are considered vulnerable. This could be due to poor mental health, additional learning needs, economic inactivity, or social isolation.

Our outdoor classroom is a safe space to improve physical and mental health, communication, independent thinking skills and develop confidence, whilst increasing social engagement. Using gardening tasks and the outdoor classroom itself, our practitioners will build a set of activities and personal goals for each gardener to address particular needs. Participants will be involved in planning planting, sowing, cropping, tending plants – tasks aimed at supporting communication, independence and thinking skills.


Social Therapeutic Horticulture is the process of using plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health, as well as communication and thinking skills. It also uses the garden as a safe and secure place to develop someone’s ability to mix socially, make friends and learn practical skills that will help them to be more independent. (Thrive)