First Ground Broken at Dundee Veteran Garden Project
The first earth has been dug at a soon-to-launch veterans garden project in central Dundee, run by horticultural therapy charity Gardening Leave.
Gardening Leave provides horticultural therapy to serving and ex Armed Forces personnel, including reservists, with mental health issues. It offers professionally conducted, individual, goal-orientated treatment sessions within a safe garden environment to improve veterans’ physical, psychological and social strength. Gardening Leave has sites in London, Glasgow and Ayr. £50 pays for a half-day Horticultural Therapy session for a veteran.
The charity’s new project for troubled Armed Forces veterans will open later this Summer, on the site of a disused bowling green in Dudhope Park, Dundee. Staff from Gardening Leave, Dundee City Council, local business supporter Thorntons Solicitors and site builder ISS Facility Services Landscaping, gathered together with garden spades to help break the first ground.
The site is due to be quickly transformed into a working horticultural therapy garden filled with raised vegetable, herb and cut flower beds. The project will allow the large veteran population living on Scotland’s east coast, to access the charity’s gardening therapy services.
A former Army captain and mental health nurse has been appointed to run Gardening Leave Dundee. Astrid Wills was trained as a nurse before joining Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps for three years, where she was deployed to Afghanistan. She has since spent time working in mental health for the NHS and a stint as a school nurse in Southern England.
Astrid spoke about the new project; “I’m really looking forward to getting the Gardening Leave horticultural therapy project up and running in Dundee. Veterans who suffer the invisible wounds of conflict will be able to grow and tend vegetables, as a first step on their journey to good health and a successful transition to civilian life.”
The Dundee garden will be built by ISS Facility Services Landscaping, the largest ground maintenance contractor in the UK and a long-standing supporter of Gardening Leave.
The project has also received £10,000 funding from a Gro1000 Grassroots Grant from Scotts Miracle-Gro. When open, it will be twinned with a veterans horticultural therapy charity garden in North Carolina, USA, which Scotts Miracle-Gro also funds - sharing best therapeutic practice and experiences.
Gardening Leave’s Dundee project has also received a £73,000 award from the Armed Forces Covenant Libor fund and £10,000 from the Lethendy Trust.
The new garden will boast raised wooden vegetable and flower beds, communal seating area, kitchen, office and quiet area and will be planned along the lines of a traditional kitchen garden - with the produce destined for local community activities.