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A rehabilitation service which helps people living with a brain injury or neurological conditions is setting up a horticultural project. Momentum Skills is calling on garden traders to help build up its project, which will offer a therapeutic and empowering experience for its users, by donating garden tools and supplies. Alistair Rowan from the organization explains how the project will work…
Garden tools and supplies needed
What is Momentum Skills and what services does it provide?
Momentum Skills West Midlands is a non-profit organisation based in the Birmingham City Centre that provides psychological and vocational rehabilitation services to those living with brain injuries or neurological conditions. Through a comprehensive training program, we aim to empower our clients so they can achieve their personal goals, gain the skills they need to live independently and gain access to employment.
Tell us about your horticultural project…
More recently we are going through the process of developing a horticultural project for our clients to take part in whilst they are on our programme as this has been shown to help reduce stress, improve concentration and improve mental wellbeing. The project aims to provide clients with a sense of purpose and responsibility as well as providing them with the horticultural skills and qualifications to plant, maintain and harvest a variety of seasonal herbs, fruits and vegetables
To temper initial interest in the project we are currently giving service users the responsibility of looking after houseplants and windowsill vegetables at the centre that have been donated by staff and local businesses, with the aim being to allow services users to take home what produce they have been able to grow during their time with us. The production of these salad vegetables and perennial herb cutting will also allow us to promote healthy eating throughout the life skills element of the programme.
How does gardening help people with neurological conditions?
There is a large body of growing evidence supporting the claim that horticultural work and experiences help to promote wellbeing. For example, in a recent study, Lee et al. (2015)  found that interaction with indoor plants reduced stress in young adults. They go on to conclude that active interaction with plants helped reduce physiological and psychological stress through the suppression of the sympathetic nervous system helping to reduce diastolic blood pressure and promote comfortable, soothed and natural feelings
Could you give us a case study of a person who has benefited from the horticultural project?
As we are just starting the project we don’t yet have specific case studies we can provide for you. However, the project will be open to 120 people clients, 7 volunteers and 4 members of staff, so once the project takes off we will be able to provide examples in due time.
What kind of garden tools and supplies are you looking for, specifically?
With all this in mind, we are initially trying to increase the green space element of the office through the donation of houseplants and windowsill fruits, vegetables and herbs from local business and members of the community. With regards to equipment, we are seeking donations of gardening tools and equipment to help us establish and maintain an allotment garden. These include:
We are also seeking hydroponic kits to allow us to grow salads, tomatoes, peppers & chillies more easily in the office.